Thursday, June 26, 2008

25 Simple Etiquette Tips
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Is Your Body Betraying You In Job Interviews?

NEW YORK - On paper, the applicant looked like a strong candidate for chief financial officer: graduate of a top business school, solid work history and top-notch references. But at the initial interview with a major Midwestern headhunter, the candidate offered a dead-fish handshake, slouched and fidgeted in his chair, failed to make eye contact with the interviewer and mumbled responses to basic questions.

Was he unprepared for the interview or just nervous because so much was on the line? It made no difference--his weak body language killed his chances despite strong credentials.

"It was a horrifying encounter," says Scott W. Simmons, vice president at Crist Associates, an executive-placement agency in Chicago. "He wasn't a presentable candidate and didn't make it to the next round. He had a strong background, but after the interview, I'm not sure how he made it as far up the corporate ladder as he did. I just couldn't see him as a CFO, the position we were seeking to fill."

A strong cover letter and resume will get you an interview for that dream job, but you can easily kill your chances with weak body language. Presentation sets you apart from other applicants in a competitive situation (see: "Dressing For The Job"). Remember, if you got the interview, the prospective employer thinks you can do the job. The interview is your opportunity to convince the employer that you're the best candidate (see: "Hitting A Job Interview Home Run").

Many people polish their verbal skills for an interview, but few give much consideration to their body language, and that's a mistake (see: "Catastrophic Job Hunting Flubs").

"When you walk into a job interview, the first impression is made in three to seven seconds," says Mary Dawn Arden, an executive coach and president of Arden Associates in New York. "One study found that a first impression is based on 7% spoken words, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language."

A bad first impression is difficult to overcome, no matter how solid your credentials. But with a little work and practice, you can buff up your body language skills to boost your chances of nailing the interview and taking the next big step in your career.

To see and hear yourself as others see and hear you, Arden recommends practicing your presentation in front of a mirror while speaking into a tape recorder.

"No one can fault you for being too formal in an interview," Arden says. "But being sloppy, or even too casual, will kill your prospects."

Pay attention to little things, like posture, sitting up straight, planting your feet squarely on the floor, hand position and making eye contact with the interviewer.

There's no dictionary for body language, and it's impossible to say this or that gesture means X, Y or Z. But in general, here's how some basic body language will be perceived:

-- Arms folded across your chest is often seen as a defensive posture or, at best, as reserved and uninterested in the conversation.

-- Standing with your hands in your pockets suggests a lack of confidence or unease.

-- Sitting with legs crossed while shaking one leg or wiggling a foot suggests nervousness or severe discomfort.

-- Staring blankly at the floor suggests a profound lack of interest in the conversation.

-- Rubbing or touching your nose during a response suggests that you're not being completely honest.

-- Rubbing the back of your head or neck suggests you're bored by the conversation.

-- Pointing your feet toward the door or leaning in that direction suggests that you want to end the conversation quickly and flee--perhaps in a panic.

-- Slouching in the chair suggests you're unprepared for the interview, or that, deep in your heart, you know you're not up to the task.

None of this is carved in granite--you may rub your nose simply because it itches. But simple actions may betray your inner thoughts. You don't want to test how these seemingly innocuous actions will be interpreted in an interview, so it's best to avoid them.

"You want to project confidence--not arrogance," Arden says. "Arrogance is the antithesis of confidence and shows a profound lack of self-confidence."

At the interview, always grasp the interviewer's hand firmly and look him straight in the eye when introduced. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to talk. Never sit down before the interviewer, and don't throw yourself in the chair like a teenager preparing to sink into a vegetative state in front of the TV.

In most cases, there will be a desk or a table between you and the interviewer that will establish a safe "personal space." If not, don't get too close--18 inches is about the lower limit, and two or three feet will be more comfortable for most people.

When responding to a question, speak directly to the person who asked it. If there are several people at the interview, glance briefly at them, but always return to the questioner before ending your response.

No one expects you to sit ramrod straight, but you need to sit up to project an image of alertness and interest in the interview.

"Use hand gestures for emphasis," Arden says. "You're not a cheerleader, and you don't want to fidget unconsciously. This is why it's important to practice before a mirror."

Reflect the interviewer's body language, but don't mimic it. Underscore your seriousness, interest and confidence by making eye contact, cocking your head to catch questions and smiling. But don't follow the interviewer's every twitch, jiggle and jump with a twitch, jiggle and jump of your own, because that quickly degenerates into self-parody, and what you hope to project as earnestness becomes twaddle.

If the interviewer leans back in his chair, clasps his hands behind his head and smiles, that's probably a look of condescension. If he's drumming his fingers on the desk, he's probably bored.

If the interview is interrupted by a phone call, busy yourself with papers in your briefcase and restart the discussion by asking something like, "Do you agree with the way I handled the billing situation?" or simply, "To get back to your question...." This will refocus the conversation and flatter the interviewer by asking for an opinion, while restarting the conversation without a hitch.

Most interviewers hold all calls when meeting with applicants, but a few ask the secretary to call simply to see how you'll handle the interruption. If the interviewer takes a phone call, don't get angry. Motion to the interviewer that you're willing to leave if the call is important. If the interviewer shakes his head no, busy yourself with personal papers to create a sense of privacy.

These basic techniques will work for privately held companies and major corporations, such as Exxon Mobil, Microsoft, Intel, Wells Fargo and JetBlue.

Finally, keep your comments on a professional level. Can the jargon and computer analogies, and don't sound like a junior high school kid who's just discovered naughty words.

"I had another candidate who dropped 'f-bombs' and other swear words left and right during an interview," Simmons said. "He was in his mid-40s and had served as a chief operating officer for a financial-services company, so he should have known better. His language made no sense and killed his chances."

© Copyright 2003 Scott Reeves. All rights reserved.

Scott Reeves is a Personal Finance Editor at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Signs of Deception:

Body Language of Lies:
• Physical expression will be limited and stiff, with few arm and hand movements. Hand, arm and leg movement are toward their own body the liar takes up less space.
• A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact.
• Hands touching their face, throat & mouth. Touching or scratching the nose or behind their ear. Not likely to touch his chest/heart with an open hand.

Emotional Gestures & Contradiction
• Timing and duration of emotional gestures and emotions are off a normal pace. The display of emotion is delayed, stays longer it would naturally, then stops suddenly.
• Timing is off between emotions gestures/expressions and words. Example: Someone says "I love it!" when receiving a gift, and then smile after making that statement, rather then at the same time the statement is made.
• Gestures/expressions don’t match the verbal statement, such as frowning when saying “I love you.”
• Expressions are limited to mouth movements when someone is faking emotions (like happy, surprised, sad, awe, )instead of the whole face. For example; when someone smiles naturally their whole face is involved: jaw/cheek movement, eyes and forehead push down, etc.

Interactions and Reactions
• A guilty person gets defensive. An innocent person will often go on the offensive.
• A liar is uncomfortable facing his questioner/accuser and may turn his head or body away.
• A liar might unconsciously place objects (book, coffee cup, etc.) between themselves and you.

Verbal Context and Content
• A liar will use your words to make answer a question. When asked, “Did you eat the last cookie?” The liar answers, “No, I did not eat the last cookie.”
•A statement with a contraction is more likely to be truthful: “ I didn't do it” instead of “I did not do it”
• Liars sometimes avoid "lying" by not making direct statements. They imply answers instead of denying something directly.
• The guilty person may speak more than natural, adding unnecessary details to convince you... they are not comfortable with silence or pauses in the conversation.• A liar may leave out pronouns and speak in a monotonous tone. When a truthful statement is made the pronoun is emphasized as much or more than the rest of the words in a statement.
• Words may be garbled and spoken softly, and syntax and grammar may be off. In otherwords, his sentences will likely be muddled rather than emphasized.

Other signs of a lie:
• If you believe someone is lying, then change subject of a conversation quickly, a liar follows along willingly and becomes more relaxed. The guilty wants the subject changed; an innocent person may be confused by the sudden change in topics and will want to back to the previous subject.
• Using humor or sarcasm to avoid a subject.
Final Notes:
Obviously, just because someone exhibits one or more of these signs does not make them a liar. The above behaviors should be compared to a persons base (normal) behavior whenever possible.

Eye Direction and Lying
Eye Movement and Direction and How it Can Reveal the Truth or a Lie --------------------------------
This is a continuation of our previous article " Detecting Lies". Many comments by our visitors have asked about how eye direction can indicate the presence of a lie.

So can the direction a person's eyes reveal whether or not they are making a truthful statement? Short answer: sort of. But, it isn't as simple as some recent television shows or movies make it seem. In these shows a detective will deduce a person is being untruthful simply because they looked to the left or right while making a statement.

In reality, it would be foolish to make such a snap judgment without further investigation... but the technique does have some merit. So, here it is... read, ponder and test it on your friends and family to see how reliable it is for yourself.

Visual Accessing Cues
The first time "Visual Accessing Cues" were discussed (at least to my knowledge), was by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in their book "Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) " From their experiments this is what they found:

When asked a question a "normally organized" right-handed person looks (from your viewpoint, looking at them):

*Up and to the Left Indicates: Visually Constructed Images (Vc)If you asked someone to "Imagine a purple buffalo", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Visually Constructed" a purple buffalo in their mind.

*Up and to the Right Indicates: Visually Remembered Images (Vr)If you asked someone to "What color was the first house you lived in?", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Visually Remembered" the color of their childhood home.

*To the Left Indicates: Auditory Constructed (Ac)If you asked someone to "Try and create the highest the sound of the pitch possible in your head", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Auditorily Constructed" this this sound that they have never heard of.

*To the Right Indicates: Auditory Remembered (Ar)If you asked someone to "Remember what their mother's voice sounds like ", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Auditorily Remembered " this sound.

*Down and to the Left Indicates: Feeling / Kinesthetic (F)If you asked someone to "Can you remember the smell of a campfire? ", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they used recalled a smell, feeling, or taste.

*Down and To the Right Indicates: Internal Dialog (Ai)This is the direction of someone eyes as they "talk to themselves".