Communication is the very essence of speech language pathology. Practitioners and students in the field are keenly aware of what constitutes functional and dysfunctional speech, and alternative methods that can be employed when oral communication is impossible. Even if you are up on the latest methodologies and research, you might be unaware how alternative communication affects your own life. This is particularly true when it comes to body language, especially body language in the workplace. Employers rely on first impressions and not just how you are dressed… but your posture, your handshake and even how you sit. They make judgements about you as a potential employee within seconds of meeting you, and your nonverbal communication may be the difference between getting a job or not.
- Practice, practice, practice. Your mother always said “Practice makes perfect” and she was right. The more you rehearse your entrance and departure, including greetings and goodbyes, the more you build confidence, reduce stress and lessen the probability of non verbal missteps.
- Maintain appropriate levels of eye contact. Although shifty eye contact is often attributed to nervousness and even lying, staring is just as damaging and can make your potential employer uncomfortable. Experts recommend maintaining eye contact for no more than 10 seconds, chiefly during introductions, handshakes and job-related questioning. You should break and return to direct contact when appropriate.
- Watch your posture. Sit straight, particularly at the beginning of the interview, as slouching conveys disinterest and a lack of confidence. You can maintain your position comfortably by keeping your back flush with the back of the chair. It is also a good idea to shift positions from time to time in order to stay relaxed. Achieve this by turning your shoulder towards the interviewer, tilting your head and leaning forward a bit, all of which show investment in the conversation and relax the body.
- Your hands can be your ally. Even the most confident person can have sweaty palms during an interview. You will want to greet your interviewer (s) with a firm handshake showing confidence, not a weak, limp, wet grip. To offset this, wash your hands just before your meeting and/or carry tissues with you to wipe the palms dry if necessary. It is best to position your hands loosely in your lap or on the chair’s armrests throughout the process. You will appear calm and comfortable even if you are not. These positions also leave your hands available for gesturing, which is seen by employers as a sign of enthusiasm and expressiveness. Experts advise increasing the use of gestures over the length of the interview and always use them in moderation.
- Don’t forget to smile. Smiling sends the signal that you are at ease and enthusiastic about the conversation, but also friendly, warm and open, assets every employer values. Smiling can also help you to relax if feeling anxious or nervous.
Other nonverbal don’ts and their interpretations:
- drumming your fingers – indicates boredom
- rubbing the back of your neck- signals disinterest
- folding arms across chest – means unfriendly or disengaged
- touching nose – implies dishonesty
- shaking leg or foot – sign of nervousness
- pointing feet towards door – conveys impatience/desire to end conversation
- looking away mid-sentence – suggests distraction/lack of focus
Contact Centra at 800 535 0076… we can find you a great new Therapy Job. We will help you through the process from start to finish so that you can put these and other useful tips to work to achieve a successful outcome.