Did you know that there’s a simple “litmus test” that can accurately gauge the effectiveness of virtually any type of meeting that takes place between two individuals?

The test is this.  After any interview, networking conversation, or interpersonal interaction, ask yourself whether the meeting generated energy in both parties — or whether it depleted it.  In other words, when the interaction is finished, do the people who participated feel more excited and energized than when they started or do they feel tired, drained, and exhausted after the exchange?  Except in a few rare cases, this test will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not the meeting was a success.

Perhaps the most tactical application of this knowledge, from a job search standpoint, is to assess whether you’re doing your part to create this positive energy and to make conversations flow as smoothly as possible.  Are you prepared enough for the meetings you attend?  Do you bring fresh ideas and perspectives?  Are you holding up your end of the conversation or are you sitting back, displaying negative and intimidating body language, making it extremely difficult for the other person to get to know you?  If you already sense that some of these behaviors apply to you, it’s important that you take proactive steps to address the matter.  If you’re unable to connect with other people easily and build solid rapport, you’ll be at a major disadvantage in finding employment.

There are also people out there, unfortunately, who display these characteristics but appear completely unaware that they’re coming across this way.  In my private coaching practice, for instance, I have clients who are very engaging, and approachable, and we often go well beyond the scheduled appointment time (on my dime, of course!) because we’re creating good energy and making significant progress toward reaching the individual’s goals.  At the same time, however, I occasionally encounter clients who come across as closed, guarded, and non-responsive in our conversations.  Given my lack of masochistic tendencies, you can imagine that I tend to wrap up our sessions right on schedule!

So while the consequences of displaying closed and guarded behavior may be minimal in terms of the career coaching interaction, they are signs of an individual who is likely to run into major roadblocks in the interviewing, networking, and job hunting process.

For the most part, of course, I raise this issue directly with clients who make me “work hard” to get to know them or who come across as standoffish.  It’s part of my job to provide this objective feedback, and in many cases, the root cause doesn’t actually turn out to be arrogance — but a degree of shyness or insecurity, instead.  Whichever the case, however, it’s important to acknowledge the issue and work on it if it turns out to be a barrier to your success.  Unless you’re able to bring positive energy to the table, and create excitement in the people you’re conversing with, you’ll find yourself at a major disadvantage in both your job search as well as your ongoing career success.