IntroductionBody language is part and parcel of our lives. There are so many dimensions of it. Behavioral science research is now available on the effect of body language and associated behavior on others. Be that as it may, certain commonly observed issues concerned with body language in a) at homes b) at offices and factories c)social and religious functions d) emotionally sad situations at home and e) groups in other situations are sought to be highlighted with various examples.
Issues of body languages at homesWhen we exhibit body language, it goes without saying that we speak very less, or none at all. The body speaks. This happens in various situations.
Imagine this common situation. Your wife has made a special dish and calls you to the dining table to have it. Most men ( including this author) would only be so busy with the newspaper or with the cell phone, examining details of how superbly M.S. Dhoni hit sixes during his century for the CSK team in the IPL!!. We would say "hmm, hmm" and go with the cell phone or the newspaper or both in hand, and take one spoon of the dish. We can rest assured that we have already given a negative message to our wives. It can happen in any home. The woman would get offended and be very angry. If there is a child aged some five, the poor and innocent child, may as well be beaten, for no fault of his or her!!
It is just that all the anger has been transferred to the child. Another practical situation. We are, as usual, immersed in our newspaper, and our four old child, comes very happily, wanting to show some small painting done in the school. We should actually hug the child and pat the child to do better. Even a kiss on the cheek is fine enough. In Transactional Analysis ( an advanced applied behavioral science approach to understanding human relationships) language, this is called "positive stroking". If we continuously do the same, the child will be motivated to repeat such good performance. This is called "reinforcement".
The key issue is that we do not want to be disturbed only for that ten minutes when we try to catch up with the headlines of the newspaper. Unfortunately, this is also the time when our wives or our child or even children ( if we have two children), want to catch up with us too.
We need to learn to say excellent to the special dish of our wives, or to the painting of the child, however small it may be. In a flash, the children will grow up and when they reach the age of 14 or 15, they start reasoning everything and start remembering every single incident. It may be too late for us to make up. Body language and appropriate positive behavior at home is thus very important. There are so many other issues regarding several other situations. However only two very common ones have been reported here.
Issues of body languages at officesThis is often even more complex and can ruin entire careers of people. In most family managed companies, it is still common to address any superior as "Sir". Youngsters who have somehow joined family managed companies after working in multinational companies, often do not like this and tend to address the boss as "Mr. Raman" or whatever. This is never appreciated.
Similarly the bosses in family managed companies often expect undivided attention. The cell phone should be put only in silent mode. If you have the habit of biting nails, or putting your hand to strands of your hair and sort of combing it ( many adults still have both these habits), even during an informal conversation on the shop floor, the repercussions will be dangerous. You could be severely warned. Or you could be even transferred to some unimportant job. Such body language and any behavior associated with it can ruin your career completely.
Body language can take various forms. Shrugging of shoulders to indicate "I do not know" is very inappropriate and considered to be meek behavior. That is, you would tend to indicate that you are not confident about anything. This is even more dangerous when talking to big bosses. You can't even afford to do it unconsciously. Sitting cross-legged when talking to any person in offices, is never appreciated. Similarly looking up the ceiling, more so, when you are thinking about some personal problem is never tolerated. Most bosses are highly commercial and businesslike. Our personal problems and stories are never welcomed.
We need to learn to just "switch off" when we reach our offices or factories. The more we learn to do it, successfully, the better for us. Even in casual conversation, it is always better to look straight into the eyes of the other person and gently nod your head to indicate that you are listening. Of course, if there is any noise around or you have not properly understood, it is wise to say"sir, I have not clearly understood. Can you please come again?". You could say as much in your mother tongue too. In fact, many bosses are very happy to converse only in the common local language. very happily, most of the time.
If you take care of the aforesaid issues, you will have progressed quite well on the body language issues at the office.
Issues of body languages at social and religious functionsThis is very important too. There are so many social functions like birthday parties, marriages, engagement functions and so on. It is vital that we put our cell phones in silent mode. Any constant talking to people over cell phones can completely put off people. Hugging very well known friends or relatives in such functions ( of course, of the same gender) is quite okay, but if you do it to strangers who just get introduced, you can land in deep trouble. This is inappropriate behavior. Similarly, reading newspapers at such functions is never appreciated.
For men, there is this huge distraction. Even if they are 45+, they are tempted to talk to strangers among young women, who are beautiful or are very fashionably dressed. They would tend to talk to someone close to such people, prodding them to introduce the concerned women. This can be considered very inappropriate. Even when otherwise introduced, it is fine to just say "hello", but nothing more than that.
In fact, our body language in such situations will tend to show so much enthusiasm. This is never liked by any woman and more so, by our wives, who would raise big objections. Similarly, when entering temples, the cell phones should be put off. The concentration should only be on God or the pooja if any. Any other concentration is never considered appropriate. We may even be branded as undesirable characters.
It is very unwise to attempt conversation with any stranger in temples. Some people have a tendency of asking too many personal details from strangers to whom they get introduced to, in temples. Some are tempted to even strike an alliance with the son of the people, for their daughter, through such conversation. Their body language would be totally inappropriate, as they would tend to support their verbal conversation with overboard body language, as shaking hands again and again and so on. They would also invite the concerned person to their houses immediately.
Most discerning people do not approve of such behavior. We need to understand how to behave in such places. And also exhibit friendly body behavior, but nothing more. When we do this, we would appear friendly. The actual friendship should happen much later, very slowly. It should not happen in a flash.
Issues of body languages in emotionally sad situations at homeThere are people who call up the concerned persons immediately after hearing about the death of a senior person. This is particularly fine if we also extend whatever help we can to comfort them. However some people repeatedly hug them, cry aloud, and even try to recall all old stories. This sort of body language and behavior is never appropriate when the dead body is still around and the arrangements for the funeral are being made. Worse some pat the person on the back, asking him or her, what rent is paid for the flat they live in!!.
They completely forget that the occasion is a very sad situation, and it is ridiculous to ask such questions, even when the deceased person was 90 years old. Sadness will simply be present and it is ridiculous to converse in anything, except the urgent tasks on hand. Similarly, it is also unwise to show gestures regarding how difficult it was for the person to reach the house!! Such conversations are best avoided. They will lead to inevitable negative reactions.
Issues of body languages in groups at other situationsThis real incident happened recently at Coimbatore city Railway Station. The unreserved compartment of the Chennai-bound Kovai Express is always very crowded. A particular young man, who seemed to be enthusiastic in jumping into the compartment to reserve seats for a family ( seemingly known to him) and for himself, literally dragged an 18+ girl of the same family and rushed towards the compartment. The father of the girl did not tolerate this behavior. Even on the platform, the young man tried to position himself very near the girl and so on. The father rushed towards the young man, gave him one big slap and snatched his daughter away in full public view. The girl, who also did not like what the youth did, faithfully held her father's hand. The youth was stunned, even as other passengers were seen boarding the train. The father explained that just because he knew their family, he had no right to touch a girl of their family. The mother of the girl also started to abuse the boy. The younger brother of the girl was a silent but confused spectator.
Some passengers who had already found seats inside the compartment came out and reasoned with the young man, why such things should never happen in public. The young man apologized and walked away, saying that he would come to Chennai by a later train. The family also canceled their ticket and opted to take the night bus. A very ordinary situation became a situation with tempers running high.
Such behavior is totally inappropriate. No one has to right to touch any girl, even if the family is well known to him. It is also common to find people who tend to show gestures, argue with officials and so on, at ration shops. However rude the behavior of the staff may be, we still have no right to exhibit such gestures and behave in such a fashion. This can only inflame passions and cause disturbances.
The above cases are only indicative.
ConclusionWhatever be the situation, our body language and associated behavior should always be positive and natural. It should never be overdone. Having confidence in our abilities to show appropriate body language and also good associated behavior is an art by itself. While we should learn from our mistakes, we also need to be careful in whatever we do. Once we start consciously practicing this, we would have taken a good few positive steps in our lives.
Body language is a tool for us where we can use it to express our views where we can't directly express it. Sometime when we hear something from our boss and we don' t like the idea. If we say directly that we are not liking the idea, he may get upset. But the same thing if we say in a different way by showing our unhappiness in our face or with hands, he will not upset and he may again whether we like the idea or not. Based on the way he is questioning us we can understand how serious he is about that idea. Accordingly, we can reply so that he will understand our point of view. In the house, by closely observing the body language of our children we can easily understand whether he is telling the truth or a lie for the question asked by us. Thus we can use this body language for a better understanding. When we eat a food cooked by the better half, if it is not tasting good, if we say directly she may get upset and we will be in problems. So instead of telling directly by using our body language, we can express our feelings. Still, if she is serious we have to attribute our body language to some other factor but not to the taste of the dish.
The author has very well narrated the importance of body language in all aspects of our language.