“I was a really good student in college, but now my boss thinks I’m a slacker because of the way I sit!” This realization hit “Jessica” hard as she talked about the impression her supervisor had of her. The fact that she completed her work on time was lost on the employer because of the perception that Jessica was lazy. “I don’t understand why the way I sit should matter if I get my work done,” Jessica said. But it is often small, everyday behaviors that matter the most to employers, particularly when you are in an internship or new on the job.
Employers are forming an impression about you and it starts with your body language. When you smile or frown, people form an opinion about you. “Do I like her?” the employer thinks.“Can I trust him?” Once your boss believes certain things about you, they become your reputation. You are perceived as the “hard worker,” “problem solver,” or the “complainer” or “deadbeat.” You may not even be aware that your body language plays a role. But if you lounge around at your desk, yawn a lot in meetings, look at the window when people talk to you, slouch, or appear listless, employers jump to conclusions about you – none of them good.
Instead, with little effort you can prevent a negative impression from forming and establish the type of reputation that sets you apart. The key is to appear positive and enthusiastic, which creates the feeling that you are likeable. As you demonstrate you are competent and trustworthy, employers form a positive impression about you. Here are three simple behaviors to practice every day:
1. Authentically Smile.
This means having a genuine expression as you interact with others. People will be attracted to you.
2. Make Eye Contact When You Talk With Others.
People want to know you are focusing on them.
3. Be Genuinely Interested in What the Other Person is Saying.
React with your body and hands to show you are listening. Paying attention to body language is something you can practice during your internship. This will pay dividends throughout your career.