Non-verbal communication is as important as verbal communication

"Communication occurs when signals carry information-bearing messages between a source and a destination” – Robert M. Krauss, Columbia University. This can also be termed as verbal communication. On the other hand non-verbal communication is that process of communication where people exchange visual cues – for example: gestures, body language, eye contact, facial expression, etc. Whether you are in a social gathering or in an interview, the combination of verbal and non-verbal communication is of utmost importance. On several occasions we tend to overlook the necessity of transmitting the right non-verbal signals and end up conveying wrong messages. This holds true during an interview process as well. According to BVM Rao, Head Human Resources at Shoppers Stop, "We always look at the candidate’s balance between non-verbal and verbal communication while conducting an interview. Certain non-verbal signals such as eye contact and overall body language are very important in our recruitment process. If we find a candidate constantly rolling his eyes or fidgeting, we immediately know that he’s lying. Therefore, there are other cues which indicate if the candidate is confident or otherwise.” For any recruiter it is crucial to keep in mind some of the basic non-verbal aspects. Shital Kakkar Mehra, Corporate Etiquette & Protocol consultant at Soft Skills International lays down some of these factors:

- Non-verbal first impression tools: The way you exchange cards, your handshake and eye contact – all create impact in the first few seconds of your interaction with the interviewers. Also, pay attention to your attire and accessories as they too send quick non-verbal signals.
- Posture: Although our sedentary lifestyles and constant use of technology gadgets have led to slouching and hunching for long hours, sitting/ standing upright during an interview signals - "I am confident” and "I am motivated to be with you”, signaling interest.
- Fidgeting: Tapping your feet, drumming your fingers, doodling, touching your hair/ face – all conveys the same message "I would rather be somewhere else”. Instead minimise your body language gestures so that the interviewers can focus on your words and not get distracted by your non-verbal signals.
- Physical space: People who are under-confident tend to shrink into their own bodies, reducing the space they take up physically and in the minds of their listeners. In an interview, sit confidently and use hand gesture.

In case if any of the above non-verbal signal requirement is not met, the interviewer goes for cross-questioning rounds with the candidates. "Over a period of time one can master the art of verbal communication. However, by putting the candidate in an uncomfortable zone through cross-questioning about past experience, recruiter can understand if the candidate is suited for the position,” says Prakash Nahata, CEO, Anthroplace Consulting Pvt Ltd. He further adds, "In several cases we focus on the candidate’s overall presentation – starting from the time they enter the office premise to the time he leaves the recruiter’s room. Here, as the candidate remains unaware of our screening process to measure his non-verbal aptitude, we end up getting valued information about him.” Though the weightage between verbal and non-verbal communication varies in different organisations, it is important to strike a balance between the two for a successful communication process. Companies are becoming more careful in their candidate selection process and even after recruitment the employees are provided with ongoing communication training to enhance the customer interaction level.

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