It’s not just words that tell about you…

Lakshmi Kothaneth – lakshmiobserver@gmail.com – Communication is not just about speaking or writing, but a whole lot of indicators encompassing non-verbal communications.
Most of our first impressions are based on attire, gestures and actions. When you go for a job interview, almost 80 per cent of the impression would have been made as soon as you enter the room and take your seat. Where you place your handbag too matters.
The line between confidence and self-confidence is very thin. It takes a few notches to reach the level of arrogance. If you place your handbag on the table and have just met a person for the first time at an official meeting, it is going to cause a bit of discomfort.
Do you use your hands a lot while you speak? Some would say it is cultural. To that, the answer is most organisations have their own culture. Most of the time, the interviewer is probably analysing whether or not you would fit into the organisation.
It is but natural to think about being different. In an organisation, the ability to be a team member is an asset at all times. It is one of the qualities of a leader.
At the top, a crucial quality to have is the strength to delegate and nurture the team members.
A team player would know how to support others on the ground by passing the ball at the right time and receiving it too.
Today, most athletes and sports personalities are trained in media relations and are groomed to handle the media. With social media competing for central stage, it is essential to be aware of these communication skills.
It is easy to understand these elements of communication. In fact, they are closely related to values. Most of the discomfort happens when values are threatened.
These days, it is important to learn foreign languages but even more significant is understanding values and sentiments.
These are essential not only at the work place, but also when you are a tourist. How you dress up is equally important as what you are talking about. A passable joke can be insulting in other cultures.
How do we know when we have crossed the line? We can read about cultures, but nothing like interacting with the citizens of a nation. It is the best learning experience.
Beyond all these is another skill in communication and that is personal space. I have enjoyed observing people how they unknowingly maintain their personal space. Most people do it effortlessly. One great place to observe is an elevator. It is amazing how we rearrange ourselves with ease when each floor brings into the lift more people.
On the other hand, one can observe personal space being an issue when normal conversations are going on. “Should I shake hands or not?” is a question going through the minds of a lot of people.
Some people prefer to fold their hands across their chest, while experts point out they are being defensive. Others prefer to have their hands in pockets, which is not advised by experts.
While having a conversation, the distance you maintain between you and the person you are talking to differs from one culture to another. To understand it further, note the seating arrangements in the drawing rooms. In fact, the Majlis rooms in Oman are designed in such a way that the voice is heard well and eye contact is intact.
The best thing to do, wherever you are, is to be yourself but with a bit of awareness about the place so that one can present oneself appropriately. After the first impression, it’s all about art of conversation.