Have you ever read a text from a friend and struggled to understand the meaning behind it? Or have you fought with someone through social media because you misinterpreted the intention behind their messages? Miscommunication through various forms of media occurs often because a big part of the communication process is missing: body language.
Communication is understood as a process with a “sender” in charge of transmitting a message and a “receptor” who receives and understands the message. Still, it’s important to clarify that communication is not that simple. In a single action of communication, there are multiple aspects that are necessary for the proper understanding and transmission of information. Some of those elements include cultural and generational understanding, the nature of different relationships, and body language.
Body language is defined as “The gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental, or emotional states and communicates nonverbally with others.” It’s fundamental because it assists us in understanding and decoding what a person is saying.
When we speak, we communicate with our body through countless movements. From our posture to our hand movements, we constantly indicate the intentions behind what we are saying and how we are feeling, which has a great impact on how information is interpreted. For example, picking at your nails may indicate anxiousness.
Albert Mehrabian, a researcher of body language, broke down the components of a face-to-face conversation. He found that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% words. Half of what we communicate is through our body, and this is much more impactful than what we are saying.
Job interviews play a huge part in the selection process for open job positions because even though the recruiter got to know your academic and professional experience through your resume, face-to-face communication is what really gives the first impression. Body language is crucial because it indicates your disposition, commitment, and professionalism.
As communication skills expert Eloise Eonnet stated, “We read each other’s body language and vocal delivery to make hundreds of snap judgments that affect whether we like, trust, and respect a person. These snap judgments powerfully impact a decision of whether to hire someone or not.”
From the moment you enter a company’s front door or turn on your camera, you are being judged based on your outfit, accessories, the way you talk, how you introduce yourself, gestures, posture, and more. Every little action communicates something.
Our use of body language in communication is often subconscious, but something as simple as an improved posture will change others’ perceptions of you. It’s important to communicate confidence, professionalism, strength, and relaxation to give a good impression to hiring managers. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re sending the right message:
1. Control your entrance. Just like we mentioned before, you are being evaluated from the moment you walk in, so don’t turn your back when closing the door or look at the floor when entering. Instead, assume a confident walk, looking straight ahead and using good posture to showcase your confidence.
2. Maintain eye contact. Maintaining eye contact with the hiring manager shows your attentiveness to your interviewer and suggests your engagement with the situation. Further, smiling and nodding every now and then also demonstrates your interest in the conversation.
3. Sit up straight. Keep your back straight and lean forward slightly to indicate interest. Reclining in the chair can make you seem bored or disengaged. Additionally, avoid tapping your toes or bouncing your knees as it comes across as nervousness or could indicate that you’re in a rush to leave.
These three tips will help interviewees communicate a confident and relaxed persona to give a good impression to a recruiter. Still, candidates should be aware of all different types of body language, even if it’s an action that seems normal. Staying professional and open minded to new ideas is the key to success in your next job interview, and body language could be your best trick to communicate those ideas.
Luciana Belén Gerardi is a second-year public relations student at the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE) and is a technician in social communications. She serves as the leader of the events committee at UADE PRSSA and is currently a Brand PR Intern at Jolie, a PR agency working for L’Oréal. Luciana also volunteers in the press department of a sustainable development center called GEO, where she works with journalists to promote a more sustainable world.