So often our non-verbal speech is louder than our spoken words. A few years ago, after listening to a presentation I was making, a well-repected consultant at Simmons offered me feedback I have never forgotten. He commended me on how well prepared I was on the topic, but noted that my welcoming comments had failed to capture the audience because they had not been accompanied by a warm smile and a sufficient show of enthusiasm for what I was about to share. In other words, my non-verbals had not validated my spoken message.
Preparation is an important component in helping to build your self-confidence, but mindful attention to your non-verbal speech and body language, is equally as important in getting your message across. This becomes critical when you are called upon to market yourself in networking situations, interviews or job negotiations. You might spend a great deal of time carefully crafting words to send just the right message. However, your non-verbals can either convince the listener or undermine what you say.
Oftentimes, women in particular do not own and convey the inherent power that they have through non-verbal communication. Research has shown that men generally take up more space than women and thus often gain a power advantage. In the context of a job search, confidence is a key to creating your own space and thereby gaining credibility. This concept is so important that career coaches have been known to advise clients to "bluff" confidence even when the person is unsure of herself.
Certainly, your posture affects you as well as other people. It's hard to feel "in charge" if you have your knees together, your elbows close to your sides, and are leaning forward! Practicing the "Power Pose" before an important meeting, interview or negotiating session gives you a real boost. Try it! Spread your feet to shoulder width, put your hands on your hips, stand very tall and look up to the sky. Hold this pose for two minutes. Taking more space makes you appear and feel more relaxed and confident. It isn't just the quality of your answers during an interview that will impact the outcome. It's also your non-verbal messages that will go a long way toward persuading an employer to hire you!