Preeyan tells us the importance of language and body language in a work environment, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
We work in a multilingual, multicultural and multinational environment. Small organisations are no longer fearing to hire expats and the larger organisations are hiring people from anywhere. The atmosphere that this creates is a complicated mix of differences by culture, race, colour, language, and nationalities. This makes us work in a global environment and gives us a feeling of being global citizens.
Being global citizens, we need to understand that the responsibility to make a better future lies in our hands. What we do today and how we behave are the steps we take to make a better tomorrow.
With this what is really happening is that we are grouping ourselves by language or nationalities and tend to sideline or get sidelined in the whole bargain. This is mainly to do with, one, our language and second, our body language.
What I have realised over the years is that language is a huge barrier between workers, be it at the lowest level to the highest level, once you cross this and move to the business level, it’s the money that becomes key.
To start with let us look at language as an issue. The most typical example is of people educated in Tamil Nadu. The influence of Tamil is so high that most of the talent coming out of Tamil Nadu can only speak Tamil and English. This is an issue for most positions within the country speaking English is not enough. The ability to speak the local tongue is becoming a necessity. This is also to do with the fact that the Hindi dominated states are not flexible in conversing in English, and that’s another debate that has been going on in our country. But here we are only talking about our behavior. In such a scenario what tends to happen is that we go looking for people who know our tongue and from a strong group, even though this would not have been possible in our own hometowns.
These groups in organisations become so strong that its members always tend to switch the language of communication to their own tongue regardless of the people around them. This kind of behaviour is rather annoying. Being multilingual will ease things for you, but seeing from a third person’s perspective we are creating a divide that becomes entrenched in the system of our workplace. Workplace etiquette should be to be as inclusive as possible, where we consciously converse in a tongue familiar with the other members in the room.
Conscious steps taken towards this will see you being accepted better in the system and you will be able to make your mark as a member of the team.
Another important behavioral trait that we can manage is our body language. Body language can create a higher impact than spoken words. This impact can affect impressions of people about you. I say this because I read the body language of people, the key things that I note are: 1. Standing posture (balance or stance); 2. Shoulder and back position; 3. Facial expression and appearance; 4. Position of the hands; 5. Overall physical grooming and 6. Eye contact.
The key here is to first ensure that you keep yourself motivated, you can do this by ensuring you do something you like doing every day before you go to work. For me, it is the clothes I wear, I realise that on the days when I could not wear what I wanted it affected my appearance the whole day. Similarly, it could be anything, like food, someone you like to see, playing, working out, and the list can be never ending as we are all different.
The key to body language is that you need to feel fresh in the mind, you have to always stay relaxed, trouble should not affect your stature in the office, pain should not shake you up and excitement should not make you go crazy. The key is positivity, stabilised emotions, and mature outlook.
The key to having a well-balanced stance is your fitness, to be fit you need not be hitting the gym two hours a day, it’s about being healthy and maintaining stamina. The stance and the balance will improve on its own. Think about it who would give you positive vibes, a tall young man with good stance or a tall young man who has to lean every time he stands. The ideal stance for anybody will be with a straight back and straight shoulders. The legs have to be in a very comfortably balanced position and not trying to lean anywhere.
Keep your face clean, even if you are sporting a beard the face should look clean. When I say clean it’s not about washing your face as many times as you wash your hands, but it means that your eyes should be radiant with a smile on your face. The rest, like hairstyle and another styling you do on your face, should be complementing you and not make you look shabby. It is very important, I am sure you have come across times when you felt the boss’s driver was looking better than some of your coworkers.
A lot of people have a habit to fidget with something in your hands. All those who do that have a problem with an inferiority complex. It took time for me to overcome this, but you will have to ensure that your hands are in a position that is comfortable so it can be used for appropriate gestures.
It is very important for you to be dressed well, and for the occasion. It creates an impact. Colour of the footwear, socks/stockings, accessories you wear and the perfume you sport is very important. It is necessary to be dressed well but it is also as important to smell good. It radiates confidence. But please do note, your perfume should be nice and subtle and should not make people around you feel uncomfortable.
Always keep good eye contact with everyone. Even when you are being casual it is one of the most important traits of a confident person. Please remember your eyes give out the most signals to the person seeing you. Having good eye contact will help.
I know these are things that you may have known, but the reason why I bring it up is that we tend to be careless with our behavior and our language. Mind your language is not only for what you say but also for how your body language is aligned.
Have conversations with people by being inclusive, it will help you mingle well and learn something better, and ensure that you are radiating positivity with your body language.
Photos from the Internet
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Preeyan Abraham is a HR professional. He loves travelling and all the little intricacies that it brings. A foodie, he enjoys cooking for relaxation. A movie buff and music lover, he appreciates simple things in life. He comes from a mix of religious backgrounds that has helped him appreciate all the good things of what all religions have to see. He looks at life as a platform created to perform and give the best.