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Baring the body code

 
 

Court of Gestures

  Standing with hands on hips: Readiness, Aggression
  Sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly: Boredom
  Arms crossed against chest: Defensiveness
  Walking with hands in pockets, shoulders hunched: Dejection
  Hand on cheek: Evaluation, thinking
  Touching, slightly rubbing nose: Rejection, doubt, lying
  Rubbing the eye: Doubt, disbelief
  Locked ankles: Apprehension
  Head resting in hand, eyes downcast: Boredom
  Rubbing hands: Anticipation
  Sitting with hands clphped behind head, legs crossed: Confidence, superiority
  Open palm, Sincerity: openness, and innocence
  Tapping or drumming fingers: Impatience
  Patting/fondling hair: Lack of self-confidence; insecurity
  Tilted head: Interest
  Stroking chin: Trying to make a decision
  Biting nails: Insecurity, nervousness

Pradeep Bose could not figure it out. He possessed the technical expertise for a programming job, but from the last three months he had not got a break. "Three interviewers told me 'I possessed the right qualifications but nobody has confirmed the appointment'," he confided to a friend. The friend, a Communications Manager, did not mince words in telling Pradeep that he was responsible for it. A shocked Pradeep listened to a half-hour lecture on standing erect and looking the interviewer in the eye. "My first instinct was to scoff at it, he says, but I realised I had nothing to lose." Three interviews later, he had a job

he incident highlights the importance of being conscious of the subtleties and nuances of nonverbal or body language. Simple gestures such as the movement of the hand, crossed feet under the table, raised eyebrows send messages can make or mar an impression during an interview. According to experts, 65 to 90 per cent of every conversation is interpreted through body language and people tend to react more to what a person meant than the words actually spoken. Irving Goffman, author of The Presentation of Self in Everyday Lives, argues, in the social arena, people give others the right to perceive what they claim to be, if their roles are legitimised with suitable actions and appearance. Non verbal language plays a critical function in the corporate environment, as people have immediate and direct benefits to reap from assessing people on the basis of impressions gathered from nonverbal cues. Hence, 'actions and appearance' or verbal and non-verbal language must be in sync with each other. This is, especially, true in an interviewing situation, where a candidate in flat 30 minute or less, must impress the suitability of his candidature on the interviewer. Given the limited time frame, unconsciously or consciously, the interviewer relies heavily on non-verbal gestures to make the final choice. Many times interviewers reject candidate not because the candidate lacks the technical expertise for the job, but due to a certain air or attitude exuded by the candidate. For instance, a candidate who cites his ability to lead a team but to fidgets on being closely questioned by the interviewer is likely to be rejected. Hence, the candidate needs to be conscious of the image he or she is projecting to the interviewer. AssureConsulting.com helps you master the body language game.

HANDSHAKE: Shaking hands is a universal business greeting and it can make or mar the first impression. The handshake should be firm but not bone crushing. Firm handshakes reflect confidence level of the candidate. You should grip the interviewer' hand so that the web of your thumbs meet and apply the same degree of pressure as the interviewer. Most people are comfortable with people who are similar to them, and matching the interviewer's handshake is your first opportunity to create similarities. Prior to meeting the interviewer, shake hands a couple of times with your friends, being sure to perform the motion from the elbow not from the shoulder. Not having sweaty hands is certainly an advantage.

GESTURES: Gestures speak volumes. Some outward expressions of inner feelings are listed below:

I am confident: Common gestures that signal self assurance and poise to the interviewer are:
- Flashing a smile at the interviewer,
- Brisk walk,
- Hands resting lightly to the body and 
- Erect back.

I am concentrating: In the course of an interview, always let the interviewer complete what he's saying. These gestures indicate you are an interested and attentive listener:
- Chin thrust out,
- Hands resting on the chin,
- Lean forward slightly to catch the interviewer's word.

I am cooperative: If you are applying for a position which require you to function in a team the interviewer will assess you are a team player.
- Open hands,
- Sitting back,
- Eye movements, which encompass everyone in the room when you are answering

I am defensive: Many times the interviewer to test your claims may subject you to intense questioning. Do not adopt a defensive body language by
- Crossing arms,
- Glancing sideways,
- Touching-rubbing nose, and
- Rubbing eyes.

I'm nervous: Nervousness can wreck an interview for a candidate. Apart from breathing deeply and taking a few seconds to answer the questions, you can project poise by avoiding the common nervous gestures listed below:
- Playing with your hair, clothing or jewelry,
- Biting or licking your lips, 
- Biting your fingernails,
- Jiggling money or knees,
- Wringing ands,
- Chewing on a pen or pencil,
- Giggling,
- Constantly nodding your head.

I don't want to be here: Sometimes your body language appears to say you'd rather be somewhere else is not going to create a good impression with an interviewer. Try to avoid the following:
- Looking at your watch repeatedly,
- Looking around the room or past the interviewer's shoulder,
- Shifting in your seat,
- Tapping your feet,
- Drumming your fingers on the desk or on your leg,
- Generally staring off into space or failing to make eye contact.

POSTURE: Even if you're motionless, your posture communicates a message. Confident applicants have relaxed, balanced postures. They hold their bodies upright, walk freely with their arms swinging and take determined strides. Less-assured candidates, on the other hand, have rigid or stooped postures, drag or shuffle their feet when walking and take short, choppy strides.

EYES: The eyes communicate more that any other part of the human anatomy. Candidates with eye movements that are relaxed and comfortable yet attentive to the person they are conversing with are seen as more sincere and honest. During the course of the interview maintain eye contact with members of the interview panel. This indicates that a candidate is confident, honest, trustworthy and sincere. Shifty eyes and too much blinking can suggest nervousness and deception.

TONE OF VOICE: The pitch, tone and inflection of voice can reveal more than you intend to the interviewer. Often, the manner in what you say something is more meaningful than what has been said. In an interview, use a natural tone and don't deviate from your normal speaking rate, volume, rhythm, pitch or resonance. Secure applicants have relaxed warm and well-modulated voices that match their feelings, allowing them to appropriately express excitement, enthusiasm and interest during conversations.

Conversely, insecure candidates can't control their voice pitch and volume. They have weak, soft, hesitant or tremulous voices, and clear their throats, use "uh" and "um" or other nervous mannerisms excessively. Others mask their insecurity by speaking in complex, involved.

HAND MOVEMENTS: Discrete and moderate hand movements are perfectly acceptable as they can often animate an otherwise dull conversation or be used to emphasise a point. Be wary of using loud and violent hand movements as flailing arms are often seen as a sign of aggression.

SPACE: The relevance of space in interpersonal and social communication has led psychologists conduct formal studies in the area and coining a new term, proxemics. In the social zone, experts advise candidates to maintain a distance between four and 12 feet. Respect the interviewer's personal space by not assuming an overfriendly tone or by backslapping the interviewer even if you've been introduced before. Studies have shown that individuals that do not respect others space are less popular and often rejected.

THE FINAL WORD: In a social situation, like an interview, where the recruiter and the recruited as pitched in the roles of assessor and assessed, Non verbal skills must coordinate with verbal and technical skills. An awareness of body language can help you understand control and even seize the situation to your advantage by conveying an upbeat, enthusiastic image.
 

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