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: Getting the bottom line into your resume
- Career Watch: How IT can be influential
- Career Watch: Crunching the BLS jobs figures
- Career Watch: Who's the best-paid CIO in the land?
- Career Watch: Top perks for IT jobs
- Career Watch: The rise of people architecture
- 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
Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.
- PCI 3.0 Compliance In this white paper, learn how PCI-DSS 3.0 effects how you deploy and maintain PCI compliant networks using CradlePoint devices.
- Defense throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle with Alert Logic Threat and Log Manager New security threats are emerging all the time, from new forms of malware and web application exploits that target code vulnerabilities to attacks...
- QA Automation: Reducing Test Execution While Improving Coverage A leading capital investment firm in the US was in need of a comprehensive, cost effective and flexible solution to reduce their existing...
- Protect your brand with Alert Logic PCI DSS compliance solutions Alert logic's cloud-powered solutions help organizations that process, store or transmit credit card data eliminate the burden of PCI compliance. This product brief...
- Expert Panel: Enterprise Mobility and Data Loss Prevention When it comes to enterprise mobility, it's not just about devices, it's about the way people work. Hear this expert panel discuss the...
- Princess Cruises collaborates across the globe in the IBM cloud Norm Ayers, Director of Emergency Response and Social Projects at Princess Cruises explains how IBM and Cloud helped the company rapidly scale its... All Management White Papers | Webcasts