Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interview Body Language

Body Language - Make Sure You 'Fit In'
One of the key questions in the mind of the interviewer will almost certainly be ‘Will this person fit in?’ Therefore, if you are perceived as being a good fit with the prevailing corporate style and culture you will be strengthening your case. Here again, what you wear can have a disproportionate effect on the interviewers perception. So, you might be wondering how you can predict what to wear in order to fit in. 
It is actually remarkably easy to get information about the prevailing corporate style. If they have a website, visit this and see if there any pictures of people at work (but do be aware that some organizations use library pictures for this). 
Alternatively, try getting hold of a copy of the annual reports. Another useful tactic can be to visit the site at the start, middle or end of the working day and observing the prevailing dress code of the staff as they come and go; before assembling a smart version of this for yourself; ahead of the interview.
Recognizing Physiological Responses
When you attend an interview, you are likely to notice one or more of the following: 

·         Firstly, your temperature is likely to increase and you may notice that you have sweaty palms, that you feel slightly flushed and maybe even clammy.

·         Secondly, adrenaline may be pumped into your system and this may make you feel shaky.

·         Thirdly, your respiration rate is liable to increase and this may make you feel stressed and panicky.

·         Finally, nervous energy may cause you to consume body sugar with the result that your mouth starts to feel dried out.

These effects - increased temperature, shakiness, panic, stress and a dry mouth can interact to make you feel extremely nervous, uncomfortable and tongue tied. 
However, research has shown that they are not necessarily signs of fear but may indicate that you are gearing up to perform. Many entertainers, public speakers and competitive sports people report the same four symptoms immediately prior to performing - often before giving the best performance of their lives. In the context of an important interview that is precisely what you should be aiming to do. 
Therefore, recognizing the symptoms for what they are shouldn’t panic you, as they may well enable you to perform better on the day.

Positive Visualization 

The subconscious mind works on past experiences, hopes and fears. 

·         In being apprehensive ahead of an interview it is easy for your sub-conscious to focus on negative outcomes and thereby magnify your concerns. If you concentrate on your own nervousness then you will be drawing this to the attention of the interviewer and the impact of your message will be weakened. If you become aware that the interviewer is observing your nervous state this can serve to heighten your self-consciousness.

·         Before the interview, you should try to visualize an enthusiastic interviewer; who is reacting positively to your responses. Picture yourself delivering a clear and interesting presentation; admit to yourself that you may be nervous but that you are going to use this in a positive way.

·         Remember that the interviewer is not your adversary and they are not attending the interview in order to pull you apart. Their interest lies in what you might say and show them. If you keep your responses focused on the message and try to relax then they will be able to concentrate on taking your message on board.

Overcoming Negative Thoughts
You may be convinced that they have formed an unfavourable first impression of you. Ignore this thought. 

·         Professional interviewers and other managers are increasingly trained to overcome their initial reactions and to apply more scientific interview techniques. Even if you have stumbled and made a weak first impression you can turn their opinion round, so keep working hard at making the right impression throughout the remainder of the interview.

·         The first impression is important; but always approach the interview in a holistic manner, you are a winner and you are there to win!

Aspects of Body Language

Body language is a very important part of any communication. It will be analyzed by the interviewer; even if they are unaware of this at the conscious level. A brilliantly prepared interview delivered in an interesting voice will fall well short of the mark if accompanied by negative, intrusive or hostile body language. 
There are three main aspects of body language that you should consider: what to do with your eyes, what your facial expressions indicate and the positioning and movement of your torso and limbs.


In any intimate communication there is a natural tendency to mirror the pose and position of the person you are talking to, and this behaviour tends to result in a more relaxed and agreeable atmosphere. You can help to put the interviewer at ease by being aware of this and making a positive but subtle effort to mirror their body language. 
The concept of mirroring is based on the well-known human trait of like attracting like. People generally like people that appear to be similar to them. Therefore, by observing the interviewers body language and reflecting this back at them they are likely to feel more at ease and friendly towards you. 
An individual’s facial expression, tone of voice, body posture and movement often convey a world of detail about what they are thinking and feeling and how they are reacting to what you are saying. The effective use and interpretation of body language communication will help you to identify subtle aspects of the interviewer’s attitudes and reactions. This understanding and interpretation of body language is a key component of intelligent listening.
Maintaining LPM
As most interviews are held with both parties seated it is important to convey a positive message in the way you sit. In particular, this comes down to the placement of your arms and legs. 

·         With the upper limbs the guideline is that the less a person moves their hands and arms, the more powerful they are. This supports the view that they are used to people listening to them and they therefore do not have to resort to gesticulation to get their point across.

·         The technical term for this is Low Peripheral Movement, or LPM. When being interviewed, maintain LPM and you will make a more impressive impact with your interviewer.

·         Try to keep your hands lower than your elbows; rest them on the arms of the chair, your thighs or even make a low steeple with the fingers of both hands.

How to Sit at Interview
The everyday seating position, with legs crossed high-up is not suitable for the interview setting because in this intimate context it actually conveys a defensive attitude. 
Your legs need to convey confidence and there are two key positions that can communicate this - the low cross or athletic position. 

·         The athletic position is where one leg is brought under your chair so that only the toe of that shoe is in contact with the floor. The other leg is firmly planted on the floor, parallel with the direction of the chair, with the entire sole of that shoe on the floor. This is a powerful position, conveying a readiness for action.

·         The athletic position is often not suited to female clothing and here the low cross position, where the legs are kept together and crossed at the ankles is often the best option.

Effective Eye Contact
The face should reach the correct target zone for positive eye contact. Think about where else you might be tempted to look at someone’s face during a conversation; which area of the face do you think would cause the most discomfort to the person being looked at? Looking at someone’s face anywhere outside of the triangular target zone is likely to cause some degree of embarrassment. However, the no-go zones shown are both associated with strong adverse reactions.

You should target Zone A the intimate zone and by moving just a fraction below the base of the target triangle you will enter it. When this happens people typically react by feeling that the other person is staring at them, or that the observer looks shifty.

Zone B is a dominant zone and by looking at the forehead of another person you are likely to invoke a reaction that you appear to be arrogant, that you are staring straight through them or more commonly that you are talking down at them.

As well as understanding how to make positive eye contact it is also important to ensure that you do maintain this form of communication even if the interview does not appear to be going as well as you had hoped. If this is the case you will need all of the help you can muster to get the interview back on track and maintaining the correct amount of positive eye contact may help to do this.
Eye contact with the interviewer is an essential part of the interview process. Without it they will feel remote from you and are unlikely to relate to one another, or what you are saying in a meaningful way. Not many people realize how important eye contact is, or how sensitive people are to it. 
Eye contact should be a positive form of body language communication, but if it is not used correctly it can easily become negative.
Instigating Eye Contact
Understanding where to look to make positive eye contact is only part of the story. You also need to know how and when to use this non-verbal communication. The amount of eye contact you make should differ fundamentally depending on whether you are in the role of speaker or listener. 
It is in the role of listener that you should instigate more eye contact and hold it for longer periods of time. It supports your role as an attentive listener, whereas overusing eye contact when speaking may appear a demand for the interviewer to pay attention. As a speaker holding eye contact initially for 5 to 10 seconds and after that using it in an intermittent way is ideal. This way you do not appear to be lecturing or hectoring and the listener does not feel that they are being challenged to a staring contest. 
It is normal for the listener to maintain eye contact for longer than the speaker who will typically break off and then revisit this form of contact as they are speaking. Eye contact when used positively can be a very effective form of non-verbal communication. However, excessive or inappropriate eye contact will prevent you establishing a good relationship with your interviewer. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Urgent vs Important

Learn to distinguish "urgent" from "important".

URGENT - "requiring or compelling speedy action or attention" (NOW!) We react to urgent tasks.

IMPORTANT - "of great significance or value" (GIVES RESULTS) Important tasks require more initiative and being proactive.

Sometimes urgent things are important and sometimes they aren't. You will never have enough time for everything, so you need to decide what is really important. IMPORTANT activities are those which help you to achieve your goals. Most of us have learned to respond to urgent requests at the expense of important tasks. Ignore important tasks at your peril - they will escalate and become urgent, at which point you have yet another crisis to deal with!

In Stephen Covey's book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" he categorises activities into four categories:

1) Urgent and Important
2) Not Urgent and Important
3) Urgent and Not Important
4) Not Urgent and Not Important

The highest payoffs and greatest opportunities are usually in category 2.

Stephen Covey asks: "What one thing could you do in your personal or professional life that, if you did it on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive differencein your life?" Activities in category 2 have that kind of impact. Our effectiveness takes quantum leaps when we concentrate on category 2.

Do you find yourself responding to "urgent" items or requests more quickly than "important" ones? Start making important tasks seem more urgent by setting deadlines for them, and schedule the activities into your day. Make sure you take care of the important tasks, even if they are not urgent. When you do have to react to an "urgent request", spend some time thinking through your response. Solutions that are well thought out are usually better than impulsive reactions.

If you start spending 80% of your time working with "Not Urgent but Important" items, and only 20% of your time on the other 3 categories, your effectiveness will increase dramatically. Most people start with the quick, easy or enjoyable tasks on their task list. Think about starting with the most IMPORTANT tasks instead.

Remember, IMPORTANT activities are those which help you to achieve your goals.

Strategies for Handling Last Minute Meetings

By Susan Friedmann 

Have you ever found yourself having to scramble to organize a meeting at the last minute? Wouldn't it be nice that if and when this daunting situation arose, you were well prepared with all necessary information ready at your fingertips? That's why I've developed the following seven survival strategies to help you plan for the inevitable, because you know as well as I, it's going to happen 'someaday.' 

Survival Strategy #1 - Question the meeting need: Before you jump into automatic pilot to start your last minute meeting organization, challenge the request. Since deciding to hold a meeting demands serious consideration because of the costs involved, both direct and indirect, double-check the rationale for holding the meeting. Develop a few pertinent questions to ask and find out if a meeting alternative, such as a teleconference would achieve the same results. 

Survival Strategy #2 - Know the basics: If the meeting really needs to happen, make sure that you plan for the basics: 

·       What is the purpose of the meeting

·       Where should it take place - on or off-site?

·       When is it scheduled for - date and time

·       What's the meeting agenda?

·       Who needs to be invited?

·       What refreshments and snacks are needed?

·       What specific materials and equipment is needed?

·       What travel and hotel arrangements, if any, are necessary?

·       What's the meeting budget? 

When it comes to budget, remind your boss that good quality, last minute buying and cheap doesn’t usually correlate. The reality is that last minute pricing may well come at a premium. 

Survival Strategy #3 - Develop checklists: Checklists should be every meeting planner’s guardian angel. They're there to help out in time of trouble and avoid unnecessary panic. With the hundreds of pieces that make up the meeting puzzle, the only way to put them together and keep tabs on all the details is with a checklist. Become a checklist fanatic and consider having a checklist for each checklist. Cover all your bases. The more thorough you are, the greater the probability of success, even at the last minute. 

Survival Strategy #4 - Create a contact list: When you need something in a hurry who do you call? These are the people who need to make up your contact list. Consider your facility needs, catering, audio-visual, etc. Compile a list with phone including cell phones, fax and email information. Keep this list updated annually as contacts and their information can change. Also include useful website resources as you find them, but remember to check them out beforehand. 

Survival Strategy #5 - Build relationships: Don't wait until you need a favor from someone, rather continually find ways to build a "dream team" or support network. Build a contact base of other meeting professionals, suppliers, vendors and angels you can call on at the last minute to help you out. Take time to discuss their strategies and resources for dealing with last minute meetings, and add this information to your "survival kit." Don't forget to include your fellow co-workers who might be willing and able to help out at a moment's notice. 

Survival Strategy #6 - Develop contingencies: Because your plans are last minute, the greater the chance of something not working out the way you'd like it to. So what's your backup? If you don't have one, all your original plans could be destroyed in an instant, and you'll be scrambling even more than before to put a second strategy into operation. Have a Plan B ready "in the wings" just in case you need it. Once again, t he more thorough you are, the greater the probability of pulling off this miracle. 

Survival Strategy #7 - Learn to laugh: Keeping a sense of humor will definitely help prevent you getting mad, angry and frustrated with those disorganized managers who leave things to the last minute and expect you to perform miracles. Learn to laugh at them and yourself to keep a saner perspective on life. If nothing else, remember that laughing is a great survival technique, which is good for your health and will help reduce stress and blood pressure levels.

Monday, May 4, 2009

What's the Miracle cost?

Tess was a precocious eight years old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy didn't have the money for the doctor bills and our house. Only a very costly surgery could save him now and it was looking like there was no-one to loan them the money. She heard Daddy say to her tearful Mother with whispered desperation, "Only amiracle can save him now."

Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes. Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too intently talking to another man to be bothered by an eight year old at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!"

And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he said without waiting for a reply to his question."

Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick ... and I want to buy a miracle.""

I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist."

His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?"

"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you." the pharmacist said, softening a little."

Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does you brother need?"

"I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs a operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money. "How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago."

One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audibly. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents -- the exact price of a miracle for little brothers." He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her and said "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the kind of miracle you need.

"That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place. "That surgery," her mom whispered. "was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?

"Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost... one dollar and eleven cents... plus the faith of a little child.

Dr. Seuss's Selling Technique

Most people have read the Dr. Seuss tale "Green Eggs & Ham", either as kids or to their children. What is interesting is the relevance this story has to selling. Learn the secrets of Dr. Seusus's selling technique and build your sales.

"I am Sam. Sam I am. Do you like green eggs and ham? Would you like them here or there? Would you like them in a box, would you like them with a fox?"

3 Step Selling Technique from Dr. Seuss

1. Sam is selling a product and although his prospect is not initially interested, Sam doesn't let that deter him from asking.

2. Sam consistently offers the prospect a choice when trying to close the sale.

3. He refuses to give up. No matter how many times his prospect says "no", Sam keeps offering alternatives. He offers fourteen options before finally closing the sale.

I am not suggesting that you pester your customers but most people give up too early in the sales process. We hear a few "no's" and decide to turn our attention elsewhere. It is your responsibility as a business owner to ask the customer to make a decision - you cannot expect a customer to do the work for you.

If you have been effective in learning about their specific needs and presented the appropriate solution to your prospect then you have earned the right to ask them for the sale. Here are a few selling techniques that will help you reach this point:

Tell Me More: Avoid launching into a lengthy discussion of what you can do for your client until you thoroughly understand what business challenges they face. Use open questioning to gather this information and avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly. Listen carefully to what they say and clarify anything that is not clear. Ask them to elaborate by using prompts such as "uh-huh," "tell me more," and "what else?"

Many Options: When it comes time to present your product or service, try not to limit the prospect to one option. Provide a choice of solutions that meet their specific concerns. Explain the benefits of each option, and when necessary, discuss the drawbacks of each alternative. Do not present so many options that the decision becomes overwhelming. Be prepared to tell your prospect which option best suits their needs if they ask.

Speak Easy: Speak in terms they can understand, avoiding the use of terminology they may not recognize. Case in point; as I developed my web site, I found myself talking to people who were extremely knowledgeable but they used terminology that sounded like a foreign language to me. I found myself getting frustrated, and in some cases feeling a bit dumb, because I had to keep asking them what they meant. Be very cautious how much jargon you use in your presentations and make sure your customer understands what you are saying.

Objections Are Common: Recognize that objections are a natural component of the sales process. It's common for a customer to express several objections before they make the decision to commit to the purchase. Don't take these objections personally and do not assume that it means the other person is not interested. Understand that your prospect will likely have specific concerns about making a decision.

Dig Deep: Clarify their objections to uncover the true hesitation - do not hesitate to probe deeper to explore the real issues preventing them from making a decision. In most cases, your prospect will give you the information you need providing you keep your approach non-confrontational and neutral. Learn to handle objections in a non-argumentative manner. When you uncover their true objection keep your response brief and to the point. Talking too much will seem that you are trying to justify your product or price. Plus, you can sometimes talk yourself out a sale if you aren't careful.

Ask: Ask for the sale. As long as you do not pressure them into making a decision, they won't be offended by your request. Develop the confidence to ask for the sale in a variety of ways and begin asking every qualified person for their commitment. Recognize that many people want to be given permission to make a decision and look to the salesperson for that permission.

Use Polite Persistence: Take a lesson from Sam and learn the importance of polite persistence. The most successful sales people ask for the sale seven or eight times and don't give up at the first sign of resistance. Research has shown that these individuals consistently earn more than their coworkers and peers.

Use these selling techniques and you are sure to win like Sam I Am.