The top traits employers look for when hiring or promoting a candidate for management are confidence, professionalism and enthusiasm.
“First impressions count”. Whoever said it was right. We can never underestimate the lasting power and impression our behaviour makes. That impression has the potential to create opportunities far beyond a future you can imagine.
Learning to express ourselves started at a young age and the response we had helped us to change and adapt our communication styles so that we achieved what we wanted. The downside of this type of learning is that we may have picked up habits we are unaware which affects the quality of the connection we make with others.
The following pointers are there for you to understand and assess if you can adapt it in your approach as the benefits of communicating effectively through non verbal behaviour will pay back lasting career dividends.
Express yourself effectively to send the right non-verbal cues.
Good eye contact: Eye contact is your primary tool for establishing non-verbal connections with others. It communicates your level of involvement, interest and warmth.
A confident handshake: Communicating through touch is another important non-verbal behavior. Always put your hand out to shake hands. A firm handshake will make and leave a lasting and positive impression.
Effective gestures: A gesture is any physical movement that helps express an idea, opinion or emotion. Strive to punctuate your words with movement that is natural, lively, purposeful and spontaneous.
Dressing the part: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If career advancement is your goal, convey a polished professional presence in the workplace. Pay attention to small details as they will notice.
Authoritative posture and presence: When you stand up tall and straight, you send a message of self-assurance, authority and energy. Good posture creates a dynamic commanding presence and an attitude of leadership.
Appropriate facial expressions: As your facial expressions are closely tied to emotion, they are often involuntary and unconscious. To show you are paying attention while listening, hold a very slight smile, nod occasionally, and maintain good eye contact.
Break the ice and initiate interactions: Be the first to make eye contact, offer your hand to shake, have an idea or solution, go into a room, smile and make the call. Make the first impression count.
Appropriate voice tone: “It’s not what you but how you said it”. Non-verbal elements of your voice include voice tone, pacing, pausing, volume, inflection, pitch and how you articulate. It conveys emotional meaning, attitude and impact which will make an impression which lasts.
Giving pure attention: This conveys attentiveness and creates open body language. Lean into the conversation; focus your eyes, ears and energy on them as it conveys your respect, honour and appreciation to meet with them. Make sure your arms and legs are uncrossed.
Responding to others’ non-verbal cues: When leading a meeting, speaking to a group, or interacting one-on-one always pay close attention to the other person’s body, language, voice and tone. Note their eyes as they can tell you when they have a question, want to say something, agree or disagree, need a break, require more explanation, or have an emotional response. By responding appropriately to others’ cues, you not only convey confidence in yourself, you show a high level of empathy, sensitivity and care for them which results in building trust.