All About Body Language

December 4, 2014


Studies have found that only 7% of the messages we send are verbal – the other 93% are sent in some non-verbal way. This percentage probably shocks you. The bottom line is this: people first pay attention to your body language, and only afterwards do they hear what we’re saying.

Much has already been said about the importance of body language in sending messages and its basis on our status as speakers. But the question that frequently arises is: what can we do to change this? How much of our body language is innate and how much of it can we acquire?

Every individual has his/her own starting point, some finding body language more natural while others struggle. The key is to become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our body language. Through this, we can learn to elevate our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses. This awareness will help us succeed in dramatically increasing the quantity of the messages we send, as well as the understanding of those messages.

Up until now, studies have mainly dealt with just one of the three aspects of body language.

1. How We’re Perceived – This relates to the audience, and how we succeed in transmitting our message. It applies to how we can improve our status before an audience and transmit our message, as well as using techniques like voice, eye contact, movement, etc.

Today more and more studies are dealing with the two additional aspects of body language, and if we relate to them, we can significantly improve the transmission of our messages.

2. Reading the Audience – Body language can help us to read the audience, to understand and to identify the small nuances that will help us make the right connection (an audience can be anything from one person to an entire stadium). For example, if someone in the audience slightly raises or lowers an eyebrow, we can assume that he/she has a question to ask or that he/she doesn’t completely agree with what we said. Before they are able to interject their question or opinion, try to ask that person, “Did you want to add something? Do you have a question?” The immediate message will be “they understand me, the speaker is reading me before I even said a word.”

The more we are aware of the small nuances in the audience’s body language, body movement, facial expressions, and eye contact, the more we will succeed in creating a better connection, and our message will be transmitted in a much better way.

3. Effect on Ourselves – This is the most innovative aspect: body language not only influences how we are seen by the audience; it also affects how we perceive ourselves. It can succeed in influencing us and how we succeed.

Amy Cuddy, one of the leading researchers in the field of body language, performed many experiments and found that if, just before a job interview, we take two minutes to ourselves in the bathroom or in the car and we stand in a “super power position,” we will walk into the job interview with more self confidence, and our chances of receiving a position reply are that much greater.

Cuddy claims that this isn’t a “fake it ‘till you make it” situation, but rather “fake it ‘till you become it.”

This principle answers the question concerning innate body language as compared to acquired body language. At the beginning, it may seem a little false or forced, but later on it becomes part of our DNA. It will influence not only how we are perceived by others, but also on how we perceive ourselves, and it will help us succeed in business, in our personal lives, and beyond.

In the next few weeks, we will carefully examine each of these three aspects of body language more carefully, so that the next time you present in front of a crowd, your body language will help to captivate your audience and let them connect with you easily!

To hear all of Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language, CLICK HERE.





Interview Warning Signs

Job interviews can be a very stressful experience. When you are being interviewed, you feel tested and like you’re being inspected through a magnifying glass. However, the candidates aren’t the only ones being scrutinized: the interviewer himself is also under your examination. While he assesses your compatibility for the position and the organization, you’re studying his compatibility as a potential boss.

How can you tell whether the person interviewing you will be a good boss? Here are the interview warning signs that will tell you the type of boss whom you don’t want to work for.

Interview Delivery Style

  • Introduction – Did he shake your hand? Or maybe you held your hand for a shake and he stayed seated while shaking hands? This is a sign of disrespect. Right from the beginning, he is showing you that he does not value you.

  • Focus & Attention – Is he attentive and present in the interview? Or is he distracted, interrupted by his PA, making calls, and reading emails during the interview? This is another sign of disrespect. The interviewer is supposed to be looking for the best employee for himself and the company.  A lot is at stake in this situation, and he can’t be bothered to take a break to concentrate on that? A clear warning sign! If this is how he acts during the interview, what will happen if you actually work for him? You need someone who gives you his undivided attention.

  • Interpersonal Communication

    • Eye Contact – Did he make eye contact during the interview? Or was he looking at your resume/CV, his computer, and off to the side the entire time? This says something about his interpersonal communication skills. This aspect does not necessarily mean he’s a bad person to work for, but it does suggest that you may have difficulties communicating while working together.

    • Facial Expressions – Did he smile when he introduced himself and throughout the interview? Or did he look solemn and stern? A lack of a smile could indicate that he is a very serious person, maybe even severe. The interviewer has the job of representing the company. His objective is to make people want to work for him and/or his company, so part of his job is to show the interviewee what work life will be like if he gets the job. A smile is so basic.

  • Patience -Did he let you fully answer questions after asking them? Or did he constantly interrupt you in the middle of a sentence? This could be an indicator of someone who is not willing to let his employees be creative, and someone who is overly controlling. Be aware of interviewers like this.

Interview Content

  • Introduction – Did he introduce himself? Name, position, vision, etc.  It may sound very basic, but sometimes it is overlooked. An interviewer’s duty is to introduce himself. If he didn’t, it may imply that it wasn’t important enough for him. If this person was speaking with a potential client, you can be sure that and introduction would be important, so how can he forget it when interviewing a potential employee?

  • Professional vs. Personal – Were all of the questions purely professional? Or did he take the time to get to know about you as a person? In an interview, it is obvious that you will be asked about your professional experience and knowledge. However, an interview is also meant to get to know the person behind the profession, to see if his personality will mesh with the company climate and mentality. An interviewer who doesn’t ask a few personal questions to get to know the person in front of him is a warning sign.

  • Appropriate Questions – Were the questions all appropriate? Or did the interviewer ask questions that got too personal, such as asking about marital status and age? While some personal questions, such as your hobbies and interests, are appropriate, some questions cross the line. If you feel uncomfortable during the interview, chances are you’ll also feel uncomfortable if you take the job.

After you finished the interview, what is the process going forward?

  • Did he ask you if you had any questions at the end? Or did he just rush to finish the interview? A good employer will want to give you as much information as possible. If he’s hurrying you along, he clearly does not want you to ask questions.

  • How long did he speak, and how long did you speak? You as an interviewee need to speak more than the interviewer did. The interview is the process by which a potential employer gets to know you. If he talked too much about himself, this is probably not a good fit for you.

  • Pay attention to the order of the interviewer questions. For example: if one of the firsts questions he asks is about how many hours you worked per day at your last job, rather than what you did during those hours, you can tell that he is just looking for someone to give as many hours as possible. The order of the questions can indicate his priorities and needs.

Take these warning signs into account before your next interview. Regardless of whether or not you feel a job is a good fit for you, an interviewer should not be trying to make you uncomfortable. If you get a bad vibe from the interviewer, chances are it’s not a good fit for you. Move on, and find the right employer and company for you.

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