Why Good Body Language is Important in Job Interviews


Mae West says, “I speak two languages, Body and English.” Endorsing Prof (Dr) Shalini Verma’s book Body Language: Your Success Mantra, 2nd Edition, Dr Monica Khanna, Associate Professor of Indira Institute of Management Studies, Navi Mumbai says, “Body language is integral and imperative to the study of communication, as it not only complements but also enhances verbal communication. Dr Shalini Verma’s book undoubtedly makes a significant contribution to the understanding of communication, especially in the Indian context. It provides an in-depth analysis of non-verbal communication in all its forms. When you appear for ajob interview, it is very important that you keep in mind that companies do not merely want employees who have many qualifications and a lot of working experience rather they want employees who have powerful interpersonal skills (often reflected through their positive body language) that is able to align perfectly with what the company stands for.

Your body language exhibits a great deal about your interpersonal skills – whether you are a good speaker, a good listener, a good team player, an empathetic leader or not. A person who is good at these skills will be able to use his body language in an effective manner so as to get his point across effectively. Something like this might not come easy to everyone, yet over time it is something which can be mastered.

Body Language is Important

Typical of any social creature, we are always engaged in sending out signals that others read, interpret, and respond to while we are reading, interpreting and responding to theirs. All these activities do not necessarily involve verbal communication. Yet, the message is loud and clear. A person, who has an eye to read body language, reads it all. The truth is that we communicate all the time, vocally or non-vocally, at times even without realising that we are. It is just not possible to curb the urge to communicate either with oneself (intrapersonal communication) or with others around us (interpersonal communication).

For this, sometimes we make use of words (verbal communication) by speaking or writing while at other times, we make use of gestures or ‘non-words’ (non-verbal communication). Most often, this latter kind of non-word communication done through non-verbal cues known as metacommunication indicates the relationship between two people – amiable or abominable, hospitable or hostile, tranquil or turbulent. Possibly, this is the main reason why non-word communication is said to be more reliable than the word communication across cultures.

What is Metacommunication

Going by the historical genesis, Gregory Bateson, an English anthropologist and social scientist, coined the term metacommunication in the early 1970s. The term was used to describe the underlying messages in what is said and done.

In fact, metacommunication is all the non-verbal cues such as the tone of the voice, the body language, the gestures, the facial expressions, et cetera, that complement or substitute or repeat or contradict our verbal communication (what we say through words).

When looked from an evolution perspective, human languages have, linguists, psychologists and sociologists believe, developed from a system of non-linguistic (non-verbal) communication. To these scholars, language and communication are not the same things. Noam Chomsky, an American linguist, cognitive scientist, philosopher, historian, social critic and political activist, for instance, argues that verbal language is an advanced and refined form of an inherited non-linguistic (non-verbal) system.

Humans are biologically equipped to communicate with one another through non-verbal means; they can make use of their body parts such as eyes, hands, arms, legs and face to do so. When we combine verbal and non-verbal languages, we create an intricate communication system through which we come to know and understand one another in a much better way.

Body Language is Important for Interpersonal Communication

It is interesting to note that whenever interpersonal communication takes place, verbal and non-verbal messages are sent simultaneously. The verbal aspect of communication represents the literal content of a message or the ‘what’ facet of communication, whereas the non-verbal aspect of communication signifies the delivery style or the ‘how’ facet of the message. Hence, it is not surprising that the non-verbal code not only complements, accents, substitutes, repeats but also alters, contradicts, digresses and, sometimes, vanquishes the verbal message.

According to British linguist David Abercrombie, “we speak with our vocal organs, but we converse with our whole body” . Linguist Deborah Tannen goes a step ahead and says, “as much as 90 per cent of all human communication is non-verbal”

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