Interpreting and utilizing body language is an invaluable tool in any situation, especially at work. From an interview to your everyday job, the following will provide you with tips to help you stand out from the crowd.
- 30 Second Rule: A judgment has been made about you within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone; therefore, it’s important that you look the part you are trying to sell. If you believe yourself to be creative, then don’t dress up all in black. Men, you may or may not know this but women typically check your shoes, so make sure they are polished. For more information about first impressions, I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.
- Look at the Handshake: Handshakes provide an insight to a person’s character (e.g., strong vs. softer hand grips). Keep your eye out if the other person has his or her hand on top of yours, it would be a good indicator that this person is dominant or that you are naturally submissive. This insight is neither good nor bad but instead, provides you with information on how to strategize when building rapport with the other person.
- Maintain eye contact: It’s an indication to the other person that he or she is important enough to grab one’s attention. Not doing so may result in a negative judgment. During presentations, mentally split up the room and making contact with each portion of the room. It will give the effect that one has spoken directly to every individual in the room, thereby creating bonds with each person.
- Be consistent with what you say and how you behave: Many times people unconsciously look for inconsistencies in a person to assess if the person is trustworthy; therefore, it’s important to make sure there is congruency with your brand. If you say you are excited about something, make sure your face, body, and voice exude excitement. Would someone who just won $10 million dollars be monotone and say they are excited?
- Remove barriers: When looking to build rapport, be mindful of the physical and body language cues you may give off in creating barriers. For example, crossing one’s arms/legs or standing behind a chair/desk are two forms of blocking oneself from completely connecting with his or her audience. People want to feel engaged and by removing physical barriers between yourself and the other person, it will create a more open atmosphere in which all will feel more at ease.
Finally, instead of animating one’s Power Point presentation, he or she should be animated instead. When watching presidential campaigns, one will notice that many times, a speech is punctuated by hand gestures. These hand gestures many times help to drive home a point and create a more charismatic speaker. Using one’s body to create the message one is trying to portray is a surefire way to create a bond and let people know that you are committed, competent, confident, and able to perform.