Apart from intelligence and knowledge, the biggest difference between a winner and a loser is usually non-verbal communication.
Millions of years ago, when I was young and I was preparing for my first interview, my teacher told me that an interview is over in the first 3 seconds. What he meant was that I should look confident, calm and composed when I enter the interview room.
The first 3 seconds was indeed an exaggeration, but the was absolutely right. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Non verbal communication skills teach you how to say it.
After so many years in the trade, I have realized that it’s not what I say or do that really makes a difference in my career. The difference is made by the subtle messages that I pass on without uttering a word. Today, I will share the secrets that make you get a job and nail it once you’re employed.
Non verbal communication definition
Communication without the use of spoken language. Nonverbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, and body language, as well as unspoken understandings and presuppositions.
It’s amazing how much communication we make without uttering a word. Our facial expressions, body posture, dressing, perfume, accessories and everything else speak for us. There’s a saying in communication studies: You cannot not communicate!
Just take a look at this graph and observe non verbal communication percentage compared to verbal communication. This graph alone is enough to prove importance of non verbal communication.
It’s very very very very very important to understand non-verbal communication. Being a designer, it is almost religiously important for you to know this because your whole craft is based on non-verbal communication. You have to understand the how colors affect the mind and how fonts affect the mind and how anything else affects the mind of the user. You have to know this.
Non-verbal communication for interviews
Imagine two people come for interview. You are the interviewer and have to select one candidate.
The first guy enters, looking dead serious. Sits back on the chair, keeps a spot face through out the interview. Closes eyes when listening to a question, and stares at his shoes while answering. After he’s finished speaking he lifts his head, looking dead serious.
The other guy comes in smiling gently. Sits on the chair but leans forward when you start to speak. He nods along gesturing you that he is getting each word you say. Maintains the eye contact all the time. After he has finished speaking, he goes back to his gentle smile.
Now imagine that both these guys have given you exactly the same answers to all your questions. Whom will you hire?
The second guy of course. So, you have to be this guy in your interviews.
Image from: Khatim Abbas’ blog.
The first thing an interviewer judges is not your knowledge or skills or experience. It’s your character, your attitude, your competence and your personality. And these are the things that cannot be described with words, you have to use non-verbal communication for this.
When your non-personal communication coordinates with your interpersonal communication, that’s when you start to make good money. Little things such as subtle nods, wearing a watch, color of your laptop bag and such little details actually make or break the game.
Let’s take some non verbal communication examples right here. This is a list of things that I you must keep in mind for the interview.
1. Dress for the job: when you reach for the interview, you must look as if you already are on the job. Wear the clothes that you will wear on job. Don’t try to look extra good or too rough and tough.
2. Stay composed: composure is the balance between confidence, attitude, looks and feeling. Make sure you carry a good composure. A well composed person is a likable personality.
Do whatever helps you to gain composure. You can take a walk, maybe half an hour in the gym, a mug of coffee, whatever suits you.
3. Make sure that interviewer realizes that you are understanding him: This is something that candidates often forget. They do not, non-verbally tell the interviewer, that they are understanding.
I suggest that you casually lean forward when the interviewer starts to speak. Maintain eye contact, nod occasionally, say words such as “right“, “ok” and “understood“.
It makes a huge difference when the interviewer knows that he/she doesn’t have to say a thing twice.
4. Be on time: this also means that you must not be early. Let me tell you a secret of my own. When I was called for an interview here on Designzzz.com, I reached about half an hour early. Instead of going in straightaway, I thought let’s take a look around. I spotted the cafes and shops around our office so I’d know where to go in lunch break. I deeply observed the building and cars in the parking, and tried to guess what salary should I demand.
That half an hour of thinking and strolling around the locality helped me a great deal in the interview. Two minutes before the given time, I entered the place. I was right on time.
I realized that punctuality does not only mean meeting the deadline, punctuality means being on time. Not late, not even early. More on that, later.
Once you get the job
A professional’s real test starts after one finds a job. This is because it’s daily grind where non-verbal communications becomes difficult. You actions communicate louder that any other mean of communication.
Once again, I’ll reveal one of the tricks I used here in Designzzz. Whenever there was a task for me, I used to give a time for its completion. An exact time! Such as “I’ll have it ready by 2 in the afternoon tomorrow“. I’d never say “I’ll have it ready it ready tomorrow“. I always gave an exact time.
And if I said 2, I’ll hand it in at a few minutes to 2. Even if I have finished it at 12:30, I’d wait for an hour before handing it in.
Another thing I did was always reach on time. My log had the same time stamp on all 30 days of the month. This log was checked at the end of each month for evaluation.
Within a couple of months, my seniors believed that I was the most organized and punctual guy in the office. They made me the editor! Other senior writers did not like the decision but I had made this image of highly organized and punctual guy. That paid.
Then, I had to make sure that my senior writers do not feel disrespected or unappreciated. I kept on calling them sir. I asked for their advice on little matters that I could easily solve myself. I made sure that they understand that their seniority prevails.
Here’s a list of messages that you need to communicate non-verbally when you’re on your job.
1. You respect your seniors: there are many universal signals of showing respect so I will not go into details of this topic.
2. You are keen on developing yourself: you should look as if you are trying to observe everything. Never sit idly on the side. When a senior is doing anything, stand beside him/her. Ask questions if you are allowed.
We all want to develop ourselves but we sometimes forget to show that we do.
3. Look busy: seriously, that’s my advice.You do not come to relax. If you are pondering over a thought, thinking deeply, you look like sitting idle. You must never look that way. Whenever I was thinking over something, I used to hold a pencil, grab a notepad and start thinking with my eyes closed. If someone watched, they’d know that I am planning something. Bosses like people who can plan. Bosses don’t like people who sit idle.
4. You are punctual and organized: keep your table and desktop clean. Be on time, every time. Wear professional’s clothes. Take notes. Take a little pause before giving answer. That way you can think of the perfect answer and your boss knows that you think before saying anything. Nothing is irrational in your case.
Your words, your work, your actions are very important. There’s no denying that but non-verbal communication is equally important. It is only this type of communication that will eventually lead you to true success.
Non verbal communication builds your image. You need this image, this perception to be successful.
Your non-personal communication is what gets you hired, gets you promoted. This is also the type of communication that can make a client pay you more money for the same task that someone else could do in less. He will pay more because he observes that you are more dependable. What did he observe? That’s non-verbal communication.
It is a huge huge topic and this article alone could not suffice so I have written this only as a starter. If you are interested in this topic, please do comment and we might create a whole free ebook on this topic.