For a pleasant demeanour
Body language and appearance matter a lot in interviews and business meetings
ACTIONS SPEAK louder than words, and, particularly in interviews, it pays to be aware of body language and what it says about you. According to experts, 90 per cent of the opinion about a person is formed within the first few seconds of meeting him/her.
The whole game starts right from the moment you enter. Neither is this a hostile territory nor are you a sacrificial goat. So, ensure you get your entrance right. The way your body is going to respond to an anxious, tense mental state is by decreasing your speed, showing signs of hesitancy in your overall behaviour and, of course, shifty eyes, all suggesting lack of confidence.
* Alan Pease, an expert in body language, suggests that one should make it a point to go into the room at an even speed, and perhaps stop at the door before entering.
* A friendly greeting with a firm (not hard) handshake creates a positive impact. While taking the seat, sit relaxed with your back straight against the chair back, feet comfortably placed on the floor.
* Don't cross your legs; this can be interpreted as anywhere from being defensive to defiant, combined with other body language signals you are unconsciously emitting, like your demeanour, tone of voice or the way you are holding your arms. After all, body language makes sense only in clusters, and not in isolation.
* Another tactic to employ at an interview is "mirroring" which is the subconscious copying of gestures between people who are interacting. According to Pease, "It is a way for us to tell others that we like them, by simply copying their gestures." It is very easy to overdo this though! It has to be very subtle, such as leaning forward when the interviewer does, or occasionally paraphrasing what he or she has just said can give a positive message. Practice first with a friend to increase your awareness of mirroring.
* Whatever happens, don't fidget with your hair, or your clothes. This will make you look nervous and unsure. Be enthusiastic, energetic and listen, making eye contact when talking or listening and don't forget your best asset wear a relaxed smile.
On occasions like business trips, where you will spend some time in a strange land, it makes sense to make those crucial days of your trip successful.
Our appearance, meaning the garments we wear along with our personal grooming, form a large part of other's positive or negative impressions of us. In most countries, especially Middle East and Europe, an inappropriately dressed person will not be taken seriously, especially in a business situation.
In Europe, wearing formal, conservative outfits, even to many social situations is quite normal. In the Middle East, your counterpart might be in his ethnic clothes, which is considered business attire for them.
For business wear, the idea is not to wear what is in trend; it is more about what is the classic business look and how to pull it together.
The most business-like look is, of course, the business suit. (A suit is where the jacket and pant are of the same material.) The classic business suit come as two or three buttoned, single-breasted jacket with a pleated front pants.
As for the buttons, you can unbutton it while being seated; the minute you stand up, the button goes back on except the last button, which stays unbuttoned. Go with a dark coloured suit, like a deep blue or gray.
Combine it with a plain and pinstriped shirt, with a conservative tie. Now take a look at your shoes to make sure they are polished and shiny.
Match the colour of your belt with that of your shoes and you are all set. Always remember that you will never offend anyone by looking formal. An informal look can really do major damage.
Now pay particular attention to your personal grooming, meaning hair in place, facial hair trimmed, finger nails clean and pleasant body odour. Best of luck.
(The writer is the director of ProEt Centre for International Protocol and Etiquette; Tel: 23556422 / 55503605; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.proetique.com)
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