Research shows that non-verbal cues can also affect whether you get a job offer. Judges examining videotapes of actual applicants were able to assess the social skills of job candidates with the sound turned off. They watched the rate of gesturing, time spent talking, and formality of dress to determine which candidates would be the most successful socially on the job (Gifford, Ng, and Wilkinson, 1985).
For this reason, it is important to consider how we appear in the professional environment as well as what we say. Our facial muscles convey our emotions. We can send a silent message without saying a word. A change in facial expression can change our emotional state. Before an interview, for example, if we focus on feeling confident, our face will convey that confidence to an interviewer. Adopting a smile (even if we are feeling stressed) can reduce the body’s stress levels.(17)
Your nonverbal communication during an interview can either complement your character and skills or diminish them. Exhibiting positive nonverbal communication may help persuade interviewer(s) that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and skilled enough to do the job. Nonverbal cues such as eye contact, tone, attention to proxemics, facial expressions, etc. will allow the interviewer to see if you have the ability to effectively work with current employees, clients, internal and external stakeholders.
All of these nonverbal communication assets may persuade the interviewer(s) that you not only have the necessary verbal skills, but also the nonverbal skills to do the job well and be able to connect with those who you will work with every day. Let’s explore a few nonverbal cues and how they can be used to enhance professionalism:
- Kinesics Generally speaking, simplicity, directness, and warmth convey sincerity, and sincerity is key to effective communication. A firm handshake given with a warm, dry hand is a great way to establish trust. A weak, clammy handshake conveys a lack of trustworthiness. Gnawing one’s lip conveys uncertainty. A direct smile conveys confidence. All of this is true across North America. However, in other cultures the same firm handshake may be considered aggressive and untrustworthy. It helps to be mindful of cultural context when interpreting or using body language.
In business, the style and duration of eye contact people consider appropriate varies greatly across cultures. In the United States, looking someone in the eye (for about a second) is considered a sign of trustworthiness.
The human face can produce thousands of different expressions. Experts have decoded these expressions as corresponding to hundreds of different emotional states (Ekman, Friesen, and Hager, 2008). Our faces convey basic information to the outside world. Happiness is associated with an upturned mouth and slightly closed eyes; fear, with an open mouth and wide-eyed stare. Flitting (“shifty”) eyes and pursed lips convey a lack of trustworthiness. The effect facial expressions have on conversation is instantaneous. Our brains may register them as “a feeling” about someone’s character.
The position of our body relative to a chair or another person is another powerful silent messenger that conveys interest, aloofness, professionalism—or lack thereof. Head up, back straight (but not rigid) implies an upright character. In interview situations, experts advise mirroring an interviewer’s tendency to lean in and settle back in her seat. The subtle repetition of the other person’s posture conveys that we are listening and responding
(15) Doyle, Allison. Nonverbal Communication Skills List and Examples. September 2020. Retrieved on January 4, 2022
(16) https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pu...ation-channel/Professional Communications by Olds College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
(17) https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pu...ation-channel/Professional Communications by Olds College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.