Tag Archives: body language

4 ways to use assertiveness to benefit your career

Article by Belinda Fuller

4 Ways to Use Assertiveness to Benefit Your CareerAssertiveness is an essential skill if you want to advance your career. It’s not about being aggressive or getting what you want at the expense of other people’s feelings – but rather a way of politely standing up for yourself, asking for what you want, saying no to unreasonable requests, and achieving ‘win-win’ outcomes.

Assertiveness in an individual can be defined as someone who is not afraid to say what they believe, or ask for what they want. It’s about acting with confidence, authority and assurance – even when you might not feel it. Assertiveness is usually about getting people to do what you want or agree with your thoughts – but without making them feel like they have been bullied into doing so. It isn’t about being pushy, demanding or aggressive. So how can it help your career?

1.  Learning to say no: there are often times at work when you really should say no. Unreasonable requests from colleagues and superiors can drive you crazy and prevent you from achieving the best with whatever it is you should be focusing on. Being assertive allows you to set limits for yourself without being seen as the bully. Learning to say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests whether your plate is full or it just isn’t a good fit for your focus or skillset is a very important talent for anyone at any level. Understand that you will never be able to please everyone, and be OK with that. Know your limits and what will cause you to feel taken advantage of. If you feel guilty saying no (which you shouldn’t), try suggesting a viable alternative as a way of relieving that feeling.

2.  Getting people to do what you want: let’s call this persuasion because being persuasive is another way to win in your career. This is about convincing people, in a nice way that they need to do something. It’s about being able to negotiate an outcome you want but again without being a bully. You can do this by demonstrating the ‘win-win’ – i.e. what’s in it for the other person if they do it. You should plan out what you’re going to say first, so your ideas come across clearly and confidently. Get to the point quickly and don’t include unnecessary information. Practicing what you’re going to say out loud can help because an idea that sounds great in your head may not sound as compelling when spoken out loud. A big part in successfully convincing other people to do something for you is listening – let the other person talk so you can acknowledge what they’re thinking and address any concerns they may have.

3.  Increasing your salary: if you’re waiting to get noticed for a pay rise, you might wait forever. Taking control of your salary and negotiating what you’re worth is an important part of your career progression but we understand that many people do lack confidence when it comes to money. One of the best ways to ask for a pay rise is to put your initial request in writing and then meet with your boss to discuss. By putting together a written proposal you’ll be forced to think hard about your achievements and the reasons why your request for a pay rise is valid. This thought process alone will provide you with more confidence to discuss it. But you must ask – it’s rare that anyone will just hand it to you.

4.  Getting a new job: assertiveness is a very important factor in determining how well you perform at an interview. It will help you to come across as a confident candidate who will be proactive and results-focused. You can demonstrate your assertiveness by maintaining direct eye contact (without staring); talking clearly and firmly with confidence, and maintaining a relaxed and open posture. Avoid devaluing your contributions by using negative or ambiguous language. Try not to use words like ‘only’, ‘just’ or ‘maybe’. Refer to pre-written notes or your Resume without reading from any documents and make sure to ask some well thought out questions to demonstrate your interest in the role and company while showing that you’ve done some research. Be confident in your responses without being smug.

Assertiveness is an essential asset for any successful employee. It’s worth taking some time to develop this skill to help you get ahead in your career, but remember it can take time. Use online resources, read books or enlist the help of an expert.

Would you like career coaching and guidance to help you advance your career? If so see, please see our Career Counselling Services.

How to Build Instant Rapport in an Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller


If you’ve ever felt instantly comfortable with a recruiter, you’ll know it’s got a lot to do with rapport. According to its definition, rapport is ‘a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well’. You might think that’s difficult to achieve with someone you have just met, but it may be simpler than you think.

There are several strategies you can employ to help. These include making a good first impression, being prepared, taking an interest, and ensuring the interviewer sees how you ‘fit’ their organisation.

It is well-known that we are naturally attracted to people who are similar to ourselves. When you build a good rapport with someone, the similarities are emphasised and the differences are minimised – which is a great basis for a successful interview. Here are some strategies you could use:

Make a Good First Impression: Whether you agree or not, the interviewer will make some initial judgements about you before you even speak. These ideas will be formed within the first few seconds of seeing you. Give yourself the best possible chance of making a good first impression by arriving on time, or a little early so you’re not flustered or rushed. Dress neatly and make sure you are well groomed. Research the company and work out what attire is most appropriate. Look the interviewer in the eye, use their name, smile and greet them warmly and sincerely. Shake hands firmly.

Show Your Interest in the Role: Research the company and role before the interview so you can demonstrate your knowledge and interest during the interview. Ask questions, comment on a new product/service or recent announcement. Be prepared to talk about yourself. The whole process is about YOU and YOUR suitability for the role. Spend some time brainstorming strengths, weaknesses, recent projects, and accomplishments so when you are asked about yourself, you have something to say. Focus on achievements you made in current or previous roles and demonstrate how you handle different scenarios.

Listen More and Talk Less: There isn’t much worse than a candidate who rambles without really saying anything. Concentrate on the interviewer and listen carefully to the questions they ask. If you find yourself becoming distracted, make an effort to re-engage with the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean forward in your chair and sit up straight – don’t slouch or lean back. This will take more effort and concentration and help you to remain alert. Ensure your answers are succinct and to the point. Research common interview questions and practice appropriate answers beforehand, so you have an idea of how you might respond to different questions.

Match Your Body Language: Successful rapport often stems from matched body language which encompasses all forms of nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, energy levels, posture, eye contact, hand gestures and general body position and movement. The technique of “matching” someone else’s body language can be used to support your story and more quickly establish the idea in the recruiter’s mind that you are a ‘good organisational fit’. It can be a powerful technique in an interview but could also be perceived as mimicking or intimidating by the recruiter if done in an obvious way. Simply take note of the recruiter’s voice tone, speed and volume as well as their energy and enthusiasm levels, body posture and gestures. This is a good place to start. Try to also pick up on the recruiter’s level of detail when answering questions – are they detail or big picture oriented? Incorporate your observations and provide your responses in a similar way.

Establishing instant rapport is something that can be done with practice. Do you lack confidence or are you nervous during interviews? This can create a barrier to achieving rapport which is why preparation is key. Research the organisation and the role, prepare standard responses to questions you know you’ll get asked, and watch your body language.

If you would like an Interview Coach to help you prepare for an upcoming job interview, please see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.

Body Language – 8 Tips for Interview Success

Article by Belinda Fuller

Body Language Tips for Interview SuccessEverything about your body language sends a message to the person you are talking to. It is particularly important to understand the impact of body language in an interview, because it could make or break your success. Body language includes everything from eye contact to posture, and these signals help the interviewer gain a deeper understanding into your attitudes towards the job.

Body language encompasses all forms of nonverbal communication – everything about our feelings, emotions, thoughts and motivations is usually expressed through changes to our body. These changes include our facial expressions, posture, eye contact, hand gestures and general body position and movement.

The technique of “reading” people by watching their body language is an age old technique. It’s used across many situations including when an interviewer is sizing up a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. Many psychologists believe that non-verbal communication can reveal more about what we are thinking than what we actually say. For this reason, it is essential in an interview situation to pay close attention to your body language so it supports the story you are telling. Here are our tips for success:

1.  Smile – greet the interviewer with a smiling hello which will create a warm and inviting engagement straight off the bat. Attempt to maintain a relaxed smile throughout the interview but don’t try too hard because it could look like you’re faking it.

2.  Watch Your Posture – sit up straight in a neutral or slightly forward position to show you’re interested. Leaning back can be portrayed as being arrogant or too relaxed and slouching just appears lazy. Leaning too far forward can be seen as aggressive.

3.  Maintain Eye Contact – eyes that dart around a lot are a sure fire indication that someone is lying or not sure of themselves. It is important to maintain eye contact with the interviewer when either of you are talking in order to convey confidence.

4.  Don’t Stare – following on from tip # 3, while it is important to maintain consistent eye contact with the interviewer, if you ‘lock eyes’ or stare at someone, this can be perceived as aggressive or even worse – creepy. Staring at someone is often used as a way to distance yourself or assert authority and this is definitely not something you want to do in an interview! Try to maintain a balance by breaking eye contact momentarily every so often.

5.  Don’t Do Too Much Talking With Your Hands – many people ‘talk with their hands’ and it is fine to be expressive in this way, however try not to use sharp hand movements that can be construed as ‘aggressive’. These include excessive pointing or hand chopping.

6.  Don’t Cross Your Arms – this can indicate that you are defensive, resistant, unfriendly or simply not engaged with the process. Open arms resting comfortably in your lap will portray a much more approachable nature.

7.  Make Sure Your Expression Matches Your Response – if you’re talking about something that you’re excited about like your dreams and passions and your facial expression is deadpan – this is simply not going to translate as authentic to the interviewer. Likewise if you’re talking about something serious – maintain that expression throughout, and then try to smile soon after.

8.  Avoid Fidgeting – it will just distract the interviewer from what you are saying and could make you appear disinterested. Biting nails, playing with hair, squirming around in your chair, tapping your fingers or feet, or scratching are all no no’s. Apart from being a distraction, it could make you appear as someone who can’t properly focus – even for just a few minutes.

Remember, it is an interview – much of your body language that is construed as negative comes down to a lack of confidence so make sure you prepare. Do your research on the company and job and practice answering potential questions beforehand. Remember the old adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” and focus on communicating your worth in both verbal and non-verbal ways.

Do you struggle with nerves and negative body language during interviews? If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach to help you prepare for a job interview, to maintain positive body language throughout, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Skills Training service.