Your Skin In The Game

Date posted: March 26, 2009  
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking

Your Skin in the Game
©2009 Judy Rosemarin

So, you have polished your resume but have you polished your shoes? You have adjusted your materials that they match the ad’s requirements but do you know how to adjust your greeting when you meet someone?

You’ve got skin in the game and believe it or not, it’s actual epidemis; your skin. After all, the business of interviewing is quite intimate. Skin touches skin. Got your attention now? Yes, skin touches skin. Not a kiss, or a hug, but a handshake. Every time you meet someone new you shake their hand or they shake yours. Right? Skin touching skin. So what, you might ask. So plenty.
Think of it this way, you know what a fish- fillet handshake is, right? Soft, seemingly without any bones in it at all. Or you know about the Hulk-handshake, the one that feels like it will crack every bone you have. Well, what kinds of messages do each of those extreme handshakes give off, without a word spoken?
Some might say that the fillet type connotes wishy -washy, soft, gentle, spineless, weak, non-masculine and on and on and on. On the other side, one might say, that Hulk type means over controlling, bossy, aggressive, narcissistic, mean, etc.
Those are inferences and judgments that we make, from our experiences, and they are not necessarily or always right. But we do it anyway.
And what kind of handshake is yours? With the two extremes, ( too cold, too hot) is yours just right? Well, it’s hard to tell about our own handshakes but here’s the point of this.
80% of communication is non verbal. We get clues from others and we give off clues to others without saying a word. Our physical appearance says something. Our tone of voice, volume, pitch, body language says a silent mouthful. And our handshake is big time body language.
So, where am I headed? I am headed straight to the interviewer’s handshake -not yours! You see, if every interview is all about making the interviewer feel comfortable, then the skin in the game is your handshake. It’s about how your handshake responds to the interviewer’s handshake.
Imagine meeting someone who has a fillet handshake and your style is more Hulk-like. What message do you think you will give to the interviewer? I can imagine the interviewer returning to the boardroom and saying to her colleagues, “I know. He has all the right credentials, but I think he is controlling and will try to bully the team. I don’t know, I just can’t put my finger on it,” as her hand aches from the powerful Hulk handshake. She most likely will not be aware of the non verbal message that the skin to skin experience created.
If making the interviewer comfortable with you is key to any interview, here is what I recommend to you about your handshake. Honor the other. That’s right. Honor the other’s handshake and adjust yours to theirs. Picture it this way. As soon as you receive their handshake, notice the pressure it has or does not have and immediately, yet ever-so-slightly adjust yours up or down, stronger or lighter. That’s all. Simple yet powerful. For you see, it’s all about the message you want to send and adjusting your non-verbal handshake gives of this message, “ Oh, that’s who you are! I see you. I honor you. I read you.”
It works, believe me. My suggestion to begin today buy noticing every handshake you make in the next week. And notice what messages they stimulate in you. Then, try to adjust yours to theirs. Say nothing, just do it and you will find yourself increasing your unconscious competence in reading others and honoring them.
By adjusting your handshake, you are not being untrue to yourself. You are actually being true to the moment and the other person. The interviewer will most likely, not necessarily consciously, know you have adjusted your handshake but he or she will feel it and experience it. Now you will have skin in the game.

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