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NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

Body Language Personal mannerisms, eye contact, the way you enter a room are all components of body language. Because we are often unaware of the messages we send through body language, the modification is a challenging task, but it is one well worth tackling. Ideally, your body language should reinforce the message you want to convey. In an interview, you want to show your interest and eagerness to be hired, but nervousness and fearfulness can subvert your message. Do you tend to cross your arms in front of your chest when you are feeling fearful? A prospective employer or client is likely to interpret your body language as a sign that you are not open to the message that he is sending or that you are reluctant to interact. What he may interpret as your resistance or antisocial behavior could be your feelings of fear that you don’t understand what he is saying or that you won’t be able to answer his questions adequately. So be aware of your body language: uncross your arms, lean forward to indicate your attention, and focus. While you’re at it, sit up tall and keep your body relatively still—no bouncing legs or tapping fingers. You’re being read like a text; make an effort to send the best message. Your eyes also reveal much about your thoughts and feelings. In our North American culture, when your eyes make contact with others’ eyes, you are showing that you are paying attention and are trying to follow their thoughts and feelings. In our culture, although not necessarily in others, eye contact shows respect. When you look away or close your eyes, you give the appearance of being bored or distracted. In truth, you may concentrate better with your eyes closed, but you’ll have to learn new ways to concentrate, ones that signal to others that you are engaged. Voice The way you speak can either support or contradict your words. That is because the speed, volume, pitch, and tone of your voice each carries its own nonverbal message. If you speak very quickly or very slowly, you run the risk of conveying the sense that you don’t care if your listener is following and absorbing your message (particularly if you are not making eye contact). Nervousness or a perfectionist the streak may be influencing your speed, but you will be perceived as self-absorbed. If you speak very softly, your message may not be taken seriously, or else you are liable to be interrupted or ignored. If your voice is very loud, you might come across as arrogant, insensitive, or insecure. A good way to fine-tune your speaking delivery is to ask a friend to help you rehearse in a mock interview. Tape it and listen for the places where your voice lowers and raises. Do you mumble at the end of your sentences? Do you drag out your words at the beginning of a thought sequence? Do you raise your voice at the end when you’re unsure of your statements? Knowing your patterns is the first step to making adjustments.