Language: What Does Your Body Language Tell the World?
If your business requires you to travel internationally, or meet
regularly with people of other countries, are you aware of what your
gestures and body language is communicating? We all know that different
cultures have different gestures and different levels of comfort with
certain body language, but do you know the specifics for the
nationalities you deal with? You should, as your trustworthiness and
credibility may be at stake. Here are a few tips to remember about your
body language in your next international meeting.
Don’t wave your arms - Talking with your hands is common – and nearly expected in Italy, but in many Asian cultures it is considered distracting, a sort of meaningless chatter. Your best chance of having your speech or presentation have worldwide appeal is to keep your arm movements to a minimum.
Keep your distance, maybe – Knowing what is expected in the culture you’re visiting or working with is important. For instance, in the UK, Canada and the US, we’re most comfortable with somewhere around 18-24 inches distance between us when we talk. In other parts of Europe, they prefer to be a bit closer, about 14-16 inches difference. In Asian countries, they like even more distance – as much as 36 inches in Japan. But, in Middle Eastern cultures, standing 24-36 inches away from your associate would make you seem very untrustworthy. They prefer a distance of around 8-12 inches between parties when talking.
Your body language is crucial when conducting business. International negotiations can be difficult enough without having your body unintentionally send insulting or inappropriate messages. So take care… and maybe sit on your hands
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