• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

Is your body language hurting your business?

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When undertaking any commercial transaction with the aim of winning a prospective client over, there are a range of factors enterprise savvy juggernauts take into consideration.

While many allot large proportions of their time honing technical and analytical skills, others are aware of the potency of a strong handshake, steady gaze and level shoulder projection.

From writing good proposals to mastering the art of delivering stellar presentations, it’s often a wager for success when there’s a clear understanding of the role one’s physical disposition plays in determining the outcome of a deal.

Amy Cuddy, a Hellman Faculty Fellow and associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, from her survey of over 1000 middle and senior level managers reveals that cognitive assessment and acceptance are often hinged on two critical dimensions – they are competence and warmth.

According to the social psychologist, assumptions concerning these traits are made in the first seven seconds of an encounter and are largely perceived through unconscious body signals; almost like pheromones.

Explaining how gestures can tip the scale in any meeting, Sebari Diete-Spiff, a communications manager at Adam Smith International, an arm of the United Kingdom Aid (UKAid) posited, “In the corporate environment, your body language is really a reflection of your preparation and confidence. It is also a direct source of information of your level of commitment to a project.

“Therefore if one is going to brief a client,” she continued, “and you come across as aloof by slouching your shoulder or acting frosty by choosing not to show any emotion at all, it sends the feedback to the person you are trying to win over that you are either not placing any value on their time or you simply do not understand the importance of what you are doing and they are most likely not going to give you that business.”

Impressing the need for adopting the right frame of mind and carriage before interfacing with those expected to add or derive value from an individual, Sebari said, “What many executives do is that they plan their gait before walking into the scheduled arena.

“If they know that it is going to be a difficult meeting, they could walk into the room in a manner that commands respect and attention and without saying a word, would have swayed the votes in their favour. At other times, all they need to do is give a little smile and that may be the tie-breaker. It takes some research to fully know what do to and where to do it but once you get it right, it can turn your business around.”

As the expertise required for optimum performance in the cut-throat world of commerce multiply, acquiring requisite knowledge for growth and survival has become invaluable.

Revealing some industry tricks for establishing strong communication channels and sustaining impact throughout the course of a discussion, Professor Allan Pease, a life fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the United Kingdom while speaking at a TEDx event expressed, “In the opening four minutes of meeting a person, we already decide our attitude about them for the long haul.

“So one of the most important things to work on is the strength of your handshake. It has to be firm enough to pass the message of assurance to the other party. And no matter what, remember to smile slightly even under pressure. It gives the impression of self-control and discipline,” he said.

To make a bigger impression; mirroring your client’s posture especially during serious brainstorming sessions and regulating your vocal texture to suit the occasion are other vital techniques that can be applied in endearing potential investors or customers to your team – as it breathes an air confidence, thoughtfulness and vibrancy.

Also some knowledge of the expressive cultural patterns of other people seeking to potentially buy into a business is beneficial.

A clear example is found with the ‘thumbs-up’ gesture which is considered offensive in the Middle East, rude in Australia and a sign of approval in France. In addition, tradition has termed it discourteous to cross your arms in Turkey, just as the Japanese are perplexed with individuals who do not exhibit a constant state of calm.

Rita Ohai