DTN Productions International Collegiate Podcast Series


Body Language - Communicating with Confidence

Welcome to the Body Language – Communicating with Confidence Podcast. I'm your host Paul Kavicky and with me are Jonathan Ross and Roberta Terrell who work with DTN Productions International – Hallmark of Etiquette.

As we talk about interviewing, mixing and mingling at job and career fairs, body language plays such a large role in those first impressions.  So where do we start? Handshaking, eye contact, fidget signals?

The importance of approachability! Approachability is the "it" factor in non-verbal communication – people open up more and feel more comfortable in general around people who come across as approachable. Plus it immediately communicates confidence!

Roberta, what does approachability look like in your view?

 Well, I think a person's face looks more relaxed, welcoming, with good, steady eye contact.  Just more friendly all-around!

And what about smiling? Some people seem to have "forced" smiles, fake smiles or no smiles! When meeting for an interview, how much smiling should take place?

Well, being approachable means that you look friendly whether smiling or not. Of course you want to smile upon the initial greeting, but don't think that you have to keep a smile on your face constantly, but you do need to look friendly and approachable.

Eye contact – what are some good or bad examples?

A negative example is the person who stares at you unblinking – it can feel intimidating, but don't let them rattle you!

Your good eye contact should be steady – you want to communicate total attentiveness in that moment. Don't let your eyes roam or dart - those are signals of a lack of confidence.

Really great eye contact makes you feel that they are truly interested in you and what you have to say. But don't take it personally if they glance away – interruptions and distractions occur all of the time.

I'm amazed at how many poor handshakes I receive.

I know exactly what you mean – I often think when receiving a bad handshake "let's do that over!"  It is noticeable when a person gives a bad handshake.

A good handshake is firm and gender-free in today's business climate. That means men shouldn't offer women weaker or lighter handshakes – it's totally offensive!

And a palm downward handshake that men often give each other is perceived as a negative control maneuver. And the "fist bump" is not a professional way to greet someone! And don't apologize for your hand if it's cold or sweaty – what they notice is firmness and great eye contact.

Okay – give us the scoop on some of the subtle signals that we need to pay attention to….

Let's address the interviewer's fidget signals first – these will help you a lot!

When a man yanks on the long-sleeves of a jacket, rearranges/wiggles his tie, when a woman plays with her jewelry, twisting and twirling – these are signals of impatience that say "let's move this along."

Perhaps you're talking too much, not making your point - so pick up the pace of the conversation. Make your point clearly and quickly when you see the signals, especially if they look at their watch!

But keep your fidget signals under control – don't play with your jewelry, your hair, your tie. Don't cross and uncross your legs, tap your feet, pull and tug on your clothing.

Fidget signals also communicate nervousness. Try to sit still with your feet flat on the floor.

Sometimes when nervous, people become too chatty – women more often than men. Don't fall into that trap.

Another bad habit is the over-nodding of the head in agreement - women can be guilty of doing that too often. A bad habit for men is shoving their hands in their pockets – especially if they jingle loose change!

Alright, what are some positive signals to look for in an interview….?

When a person puts their chin in their hand, sometimes a finger will be on the side of their face – that's a signal of "hmmm, I'm listening, I'm digesting what you're saying…"

When people lean toward you or when they lean in at the conference table – those signals indicate involvement and engagement at that moment….

Watch posture – yours and theirs. A confident posture is when a person carries themselves in a manner that says, "I know what I'm doing, you can count on me…" That's not the same as a cocky, arrogant posture.

Exactly, and that includes posture when seated – sit back in the chair, never slouching and it's best to keep your feet flat on the floor. If women want to cross their feet at the ankles that's okay, but not at the knees. 

And men should not thrust their legs out in front leaning backwards – that's way too  casual!  

Well, Roberta too often people reveal their lack of confidence by how they walk into interviews or career fairs – you don't want to send the message of "I'm nervous, I'm unprepared, I'm not focused…

And make sure you walk with some energy!

How would you describe a reassuring and composed non-verbal appearance?

Well, think of someone you admire – a news anchor, a politician, a world leader, a public humanitarian – even a celebrity - by nothing more than their body language you respond to their message.

Right…. the image is captured first with body language before the spoken word registers in our mind.

By the way, when you communicate with calm composure, it automatically helps calm others.

Absolutely! We all react to each other's body language – and we each communicate in thousands of different ways!

So we have a lot to pay attention to as we self-assess! 

Absolutely - walk with a purpose, head held high, make good eye contact…

And don't fidget, definitely smile, give a great handshake and own the moment!

Thanks Jonathan and Roberta – good stuff!