Q&A: Cara Hale Alter
The founder of communication training company SpeechSkills explains how to project confidence and competence, the topic of her book The Credibility Code.
What is a "look of competence"? Most people believe that competence, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Truth is, however, that there are at least 25 specific behavioral cues that affect the perception of competence. For instance, you're more likely to appear competent if your head is level -- avoiding raising or dropping your chin -- and your spine is straight. You're also more likely to come across as competent if your voice is strong and resonant, your articulation is crisp and clear, and your pace is relaxed. Additionally, you're more likely to seem competent if you hold eye contact with others for at least three to five seconds. So, if you want to achieve a look of competence, learn the skills that can strengthen your posture, voice and eye contact. There are numerous other behavioral cues, but these skills are a smart place to start.
What are some common ways that people muddy their presentations? They use too many speech fillers (uttering superfluous sounds and words, such as "um" and "you know"), make extraneous movements (fidgeting excessively, whether bobbing their head, shifting their weight, fiddling with their jewelry, etc.), engage in too much self-commenting (overreacting -- out loud -- to their every mistake), and speak in "up talk" (using upward inflections that sound like question marks at the end of sentences). Almost everyone I coach, and this includes senior-level executives, needs to work on at least one of these behaviors.
Still, the single most pervasive problem is people's acceptance of being merely adequate. For instance, while speaking, they might assume that just because they're technically audible that they're communicating successfully. Now more than ever, though, it's critical to distinguish between what's adequate and what's optimal. To really stand out today, you've got to ratchet up each of your skills -- improve your posture, voice and eye contact, increase your energy and expression, and more.
Can a person look competent without being competent? Absolutely. Over time, however, the truth will definitely "out" someone. This is also the case when the situation is reversed: A competent person who appears incompetent will ultimately be recognized for his talent and abilities. The bad news is that in today's high-speed, hypercompetitive workplace, many smart, capable people don't get second chances. They are genuinely competent, yet in not knowing how to look competent, they miss out on key opportunities.
Now, in reading this, some people might worry about being snowed by a smooth direct report or co-worker pretending to be competent. But here's a comforting fact: To have a look of competence requires immense self-awareness and, by and large, self-awareness requires considerable smarts.
— Jamie Eckle
The Big 5 for Big Data
The top city in North America for jobs in the field of big data is San Francisco, according to Modis IT Staffing. To identify the hotspots, the firm studied data from its branch offices to find opportunities for data scientists, data analysts, business intelligence analysts and data modelers.
Here's the list:
- 1. San Francisco
- 2. McLean, Va.
- 3. Boston
- 4. St. Louis
- 5. Toronto
More Career Watch columns
- Career Watch: Pay was down for CS grads last year, but IT workers find that money isn't everything
- Career Watch: In-demand skills for 2014
- Career Watch: On job satisfaction, CIOs' perceptions may be skewed
- Career Watch: Paying lip service to work/life balance
- Career Watch: In IT, you don't have to be a star
- Career Watch: IT pros say they're smarter than the boss
- Career Watch: Where job interviews are really tough
- Career Watch: IT professionals assess the IT profession
- Career Watch: QA engineers are just about the happiest workers of all
- Career Watch: Mentoring, from both sides
Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
Red Hat Enterprise Linux - The Original Cloud Operating System
Linux adoption is growing against a number of measures, such as the
number of supercomputers that run Linux and the size of the contributing...
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- Future Focus: What's Coming in Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) Find out why Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that are truly future-ready must be designed to enable Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities and much more.
- The CIO's Guide to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) This guide will help those making an EMM platform decision make the best choice for their organization.
- Live Webcast Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing...
- Testimonial: Cystic Fibrosis Trust Peter Hawkins, the Head of IT for Cystic Fibrosis Trust, discusses the role CommVault's Simpana software platform plays in improving the company's information...
- Increasing the Value of Your Reports and Dashboards Learn how incorporating other analytical capabilities such as predictive modeling and visualization can increase the value of your reports and dashboards by providing... All Management White Papers | Webcasts