Archive for February, 2014

Your Demeanor Speaks More Than Your Words

February 25, 2014

As we all know, air travel isn’t so glamorous these days.  Between extra fees, long lines, enhanced security measures, minimal legroom, maximum germs, and frustrating delays, our expectations for an enjoyable trip seem virtually nonexistent.  Yet, against all odds, I had an enjoyable flight the other day.

Oh sure, all those inconveniences were still there in the forefront, but something quite powerful put their ill-effects at bay.  The flight attendants appeared genuinely happy, exceedingly helpful, available when you needed them (without being intrusive), and humorous.  They weren’t control freaks, overly serious, or obviously dying to get off the plane more than us passengers.  Quite the contrary, they were loose, engaging, and funny.

Over the P.A., they said little things to get people to chuckle, such as “Should your flight become a cruise, your seat bottom can be used as a flotation device” and at the end, “Thank you again for flying with us.  We hope you enjoy your stay here in the Boston area or wherever your final destination may be.  This is a recording.”  A six-year-old boy was celebrating his birthday.  The flight attendants let him announce over the P.A. that it was his birthday.  Everyone sang Happy Birthday to him.

At any given time, I saw a flight attendant smiling or laughing.  And we all know that at 30,000 feet, those tiny packages of mini pretzels magically transform into 18 karat gold nuggets.  The flight attendants kept coming around to offer extras along with multiple cookies and drink refills.  Jackpot!

Their ebullient nature was infectious.  People seemed at ease, even upbeat.  I didn’t pick up on any of those customary stuck-in-a-plane stress vibes around me.  And when it came time to deplane, everyone was incredibly helpful and courteous.  So many smiles, laughs, and assistance pulling down luggage from the overhead compartments.  We had all become those flight attendants.  Except for one jerk, who didn’t wait for his turn and just barreled his way out before others.  What do you expect?  There’s always one.

The point is your demeanor carries an immense subliminal impact on others around you.  Some of the greatest sports teams won championships because they were loose and had fun doing their job.  This certainly applies in the interview setting.

Having been both a candidate and hiring executive, I’ve seen how the power of favorable mannerisms can sway the person on the other side of the table.  Hiring managers who exhibit charisma, conviction in their beliefs, candor, an upbeat disposition, and some humor, have a way of making people want to come work (hard) for them.  They signify the existence of a strong, constructive and enjoyable culture, not to mention a winning team.  Similarly, candidates who are engaging, strong listeners and exude a positive mental attitude seem to have an innate leg up on their competition.  Positivity breeds positivity.

No doubt, this is not easily done…especially on those days when nothing seems to be going right.  Yet, I’m sure those flight attendants deal with all kinds of hassles day in and day out, including pompous and rude passengers, scheduling problems and the same delays you and I face.  But you’d never know it from their demeanor.  They genuinely appear to like their jobs and that’s infectious.  Their outlook and approach carried more weight than their words.  Keep that in mind the next time you partake in an interview.


Action items:

1.  For difference reasons, interviewing can be a stressful experience for both candidates and hiring managers alike.  Yet, their positive demeanor can diffuse an otherwise angst-ridden setting while favorably impacting the impression one gets from the other.

2.  Word choice and thoughtfulness are paramount in a successful interview, but so is the delivery of them along with positive non-verbal cues.  When you have a moment, watch yourself in a mirror as you practice asking and answering questions.  How are you coming across?

3.  On your next plane ride, listen to the flight attendants for a change.  You just might be surprised at what you hear over the P.A.