Our body language says so much about us and in business professionals should be extra aware of the message they are sending across to other people. Probably you have already heard that 70% of what people are saying is perceived from their body language and only 30% from tone of voice and the actual words we are saying.
Our hand shake, posture, tone of voice, eye contact etc. All have a strong impact on how people see us and first impression is the most important step we need to be aware of especially those who want to leave a positive impression of themselves. We all unconsciously categorise people we meet after only after meeting.
Most of our body language habits and postures are adapted from our own culture, upbringing and what we think of ourselves (self Image).
It’s amazing how many people are not aware of how important it is to carry ourselves in an appropriate and certain way in order to achieve how we want people to think of us.
It is not impossible or difficult to take control of our body image. All it will take is self and body awareness and more importantly practice.
First: Think positively. (There are many articles that teaches people how to think positively and act it, however for me positivity has to come from within and it’s much simpler to achieve than most might think “Love Yourself /believe in you and then show it to the World”).
Secondly : Know you inner self. We all like to think that we know ourselves very well; however you will be amazed of how many people get it wrong. We as people know our own needs and what we deserve to get, but ask yourself about you and what you are capable of, your abilities and what are your limitations? Be honest and stand in front of a mirror and tell yourself what you think your positive and negative sides. Are you convinced??? If you are then congratulation you have achieved the second step successfully, if not, then repeat what you have just said focusing and concentrating on your body language and how people might see you and in what light they are perceiving whatever you are saying (positive/negative).
Don’t stop until you convince yourself of what you are saying (e.g. I can solve your problem..., you can trust me, Not to worry etc.)
We often don’t realise how our inner image reflects to the outside and it often can tell people what we don’t wish them to know (Our Insecurities).
Thirdly: Control your body language and maintain your positive attitude outside your bedroom walls. Once you adapt your attitude into seeing the positive in your daily life, then automatically your body will reflect your new positivity to the outside and put you in a new light in people’s eyes. Some might even wonder what is different about you?!
The only advice I will give is: improve yourself along the way, and once you are happy with the new you and able to get your body language reflect what you want it to show other people it will eventually become more of a habit. Improve your observations of other people’s body language. People are mimics by nature, however somethings are suited for other people to do more than you. Your character, personality, job and culture all have their sayings in what body habits you should adapt in order for people see you in a positive way. Keep your eyes open; learn from other's body habits and the reactions they are getting from people around them, how did it make you feel as an observer? Once you reach the state of feeling comfortable with yourself alone and in front of people, inside out then you are on the right track.
In the end and as we write a blog aiming for International cultural and Business awareness, I would like to share with you these few cultural “body language awareness tips" by Philip Khan-Panni (Getting your point across).
v East and west: Shaking your head (Meaning a negative in the west) has many different meanings in other parts of the world. Nodding does not always mean yes.
v Asia: people in Asia can never say “No”. Always pay attention to the body language than the words.
v Asia: Pay careful attention to the other person’s body language to see if you are coming up against an invisible culture barrier.
v Singaporeans: Tend to laugh when embarrassed or when in a highly emotional state. Al little laughter can mean “No”.
v Asia: Asians smile to communicate various emotions: anger, embarrassment, sadness and disappointment. Interpretation depends on the context. Smiling at a funeral might be astonishing to a westerner.
v Korean: Pay particular attention to facial expressions. It is very important to make eye contact.
v Eye Contact: In Japan eye contact is considered rude. They will often look down at their shoes or in the air. Take care not to stare.
v Global: Be wary of finger pointing and gestures. This can be extremely offensive. It’s best to use whole hand (always the right), preferable palm upwards.
v Indians: Point to directions with their chins.
v Saudi Arabia: eye contact (men/men) and gestures of openness are important in Saudi Arabia. Left hand is considered unclean. Hand objects and only touch someone with the right hand.
v Asia: Avoid touching face while speaking to someone else, especially with the right hand (which you use to shake their hands with).
v Japan: Touching others is also taboo in Japan. Avoid the American “tap the Back” or arm around the shoulder. It’s considered patronising!
v West/East: In the west patting a child on the head or ruffling his hair is seen as a sign of affection. In the east, these should be avoided as the head is where the soul is located.
v West: Be aware of the space you leave between you and the person you are conversing with. Some cultures you need to leave an arm’s length space and some a bit more.
v Global: Kissing for greeting Asia (Unlikely), Middle East (frowned upon unless men to men), France, Russia and southern Mediterranean countries (openly practiced), UK and the US (Accepted).
Bowing is the common greeting in Japan; however the hand shake is becoming more popular especially with younger generations or those who are used to dealing with International business clients.
v Japan: It’s offensive to show the sole of your shoes or feet. Don’t put your feet up, cross your legs or rest your ankle on your knee.
v Japan: They consider the floor extremely unclean. Avoid putting your suite cases and bags on furniture or chairs if it has been on the floor previously.
v Asia: Do not lean against a door or a wall when talking to someone. It’s disrespectful! Sit on the edge of a chair or sofa.