The Effect Body Language Can Have on Your Life & Career

EHL Students - Bachelor | 18 Apr, 2017

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that what a person was saying completely contradicted the way they were acting? Or better yet – have you ever been too aware of your nervousness that it only made you much more nervous and fidgety? In this article we will discuss the significance of body language in different situations as well as some tips on how to make the most of the nonverbal signals you send. 

"Why is body language so important?" you may think. First of all, studies have proven that “nonverbal communication has been shown to carry between 65% and 93% more impact than actual words spoken”, explains Darlene Price, author of "Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results". This illustrates that the way we say things has more power than what we actually say. Now this does not mean that you no longer need to do company research before going in for an interview. You need to prepare not only the substance of your speech, but also the manner in which you will deliver it. Emilie Suter, EHL Bachelor student says: “Body language is very important, it gives clues regarding the formality of the environment and helps understand social groups and their behaviours”. Suter insists that body language should be used in our favour and learning about the different signs we send off is imperative.

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Body language does not lose its importance once you have received the job offer and are getting ready to start a new chapter. Some may argue that it becomes even more essential as it contributes to your success within the company. Without the appropriate body language, you may find it challenging to integrate into the company, not to mention the psychological difficulties associated with the sensation of “not fitting in”. Therefore, make sure that you pay attention to a colleague’s body language as it can help you determine how to act. Fidgeting may indicate boredom and lack of engagement, disagreement with what you are saying may be shown by employees turning away and crossing their arms or avoiding eye contact. Loick Batumba, EHL Bachelor Student recalls a situation when he could observe a negative body language towards him, “During my very first interview, the interviewer was not making regular eye contact with me and I could feel his lack of interest”.

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Certainly, it must be taken into consideration that body language is not always voluntary and it can be very difficult to control, especially in stressful situations. We have all heard about the importance of first impressions and how difficult they are to dispel. Interestingly, we often form our opinion of someone by merely looking at them – thus body language has a profound effect on judgements.

“We make sweeping judgements and inferences from body language, and those judgements can predict really meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote…” says Amy Cuddy in her fascinating Ted Talk about body language. According to Cuddy, our nonverbal behaviour governs how we feel about ourselves. She insists that “when you pretend to be powerful – you actually feel more powerful” and suggests avoiding sitting down and slouching before a job interview. Instead, you should aim to make yourself feel more powerful and in control – by opening up and expanding, potentially by standing up into a power pose for a couple of minutes, perhaps in a bathroom. Sofiya Chin, EHL Bachelor student agrees with the theory, “Positive non-verbal signs not only make you look more confident, but can actually make you feel that way too”.

Cuddy addresses the power of the mind and claims that “our bodies can change our minds … and our minds can change our behaviour … and our behaviour changes our outcomes”. That is to say, if you are terrified of giving speeches, but your job involves doing that on a daily basis – you must persevere and just keep doing it. Give every speech that you are assigned and repeat this until one day you finally do not feel as though it is something you cannot do.

Body language plays a great role during your job interview, your career and your life overall. Being aware of the nonverbal signs you send will allow you to make changes to your behaviour and thus lead to better outcomes. In addition, whenever you feel uncomfortable and nervous about what you need to do, take a breath and tackle the task with confidence, even if you need to fake it at first. Keep improving yourself by “faking it till you become it”.

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  • Breathe calmly and deeply prior to interview in order to relax and supply more oxygen to the brain
  • Practice a relaxed and sincere smile
  • Make sure you maintain regular eye contact
  • Maintain an open posture, do not cross your arms
  • Be engaged – nod and smile when appropriate
  • Practice your handshake, it should be firm but not too hard
  • Dress the part – you must convey professionalism and dress for the job you want, not the job you have

 

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