Cross-cultural relationships and globalization are major contributors to Atlanta’s culturally diverse communities and businesses. These types of alliances are based on the accurate interpretation of body language and awareness of your first impression. If you want to enjoy effective communication, increased productivity, higher profitability and career advancement, learn about the contributing factors and master 8 techniques.
Accenture, Ajilon Staffing, Godiva, T-Mobile, etc. are international companies with headquarters in Fulton county. This city is home to 700,000 residents from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Additionally, High Road Global Services, a cross-cultural training company, and co-working spaces like Atlanta Tech Village, Goat Farm, Hypepotamus and Opportunity Hub, are flourishing.
Kerry Abner specializes in brand strategy and partnerships for Intecoo Group. He is a marketing thought leader and trend researcher. He is also a former contributor to Turner Broadcasting’s Insights & Inspiration team. He said, “Co-working spaces are leading the way for cross-cultural collaboration.”
Practice these tips.
1. Familiarize yourself with the science and history of body language.
Paul Ekman is an American psychologist who pioneered the study of emotions and their relation to over 10,000 facial expressions. His findings can be traced to the work of Charles Darwin.
Ekman discovered micro expressions — fleeting facial expressions that reveal seven emotions. Read “Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage.”
2. Consult with an industry professional.
Reading body language takes skill and focus.
Renate Mousseux, M.A. is a body language expert with a background in international business etiquette. For over 11 years, she has worked with doctors, lawyers, Fortune 500 executives and members of law enforcement.
Additionally, she has interpreted the body language of people involved in national court cases, e.g., Jodi Arias, Baby Gabriel’s Mother, the Colorado shooter, etc. Mousseux also interpreted the body language of President Obama and Mitt Romney during three presidential election debates.
3. Master nonverbal communication.
Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D., developed the study of communications in the 1960s. His research led to a universal model:
7 percent – message pertaining to feelings and attitudes in the words that are spoken.
38 percent – message pertains to feelings and attitudes in paralinguistic (way words are said).
55 percent – message pertains to feelings and attitudes in facial expression.
During meetings, determine who has the power. Mousseux said, “People imitate the body language of the strongest person in the room.” For example, if the CEO and his assistant are attending a meeting but the assistant has more power, then people will mimic the body language of the assistant.
Body language is based on gender. Most men tend to stand with their legs apart and use a lot of space. Women tend to make themselves appear smaller.
However, women are better at decoding body language. Magnetic resonance imaging has proven that women have 14-16 active brain areas compared to men’s 4-6 areas.
4. Take a minute to make an assessment.
The meaning of body language entails decoding clusters of signals and postures.
Statistics say that people form a first impression in 5-7 seconds. But Mousseux said, “You should take at least 60 seconds to form a first impression.” Don’t make a snap judgment.
She also said, “Body language should be assessed from top [of the head] to toe. Include factors like how he speaks, the way he dresses and how fast he walks. Is his smile genuine?”
5. Monitor your personal space.
In Germany, France and the United States, basic emotions like sadness, happiness, etc. are perceived similarly. However, standing close (personal space), touching and listening are perceived differently.
When you are shaking someone’s hand, make sure the web of your hand is touching the web of the other person’s hand. Mousseux said, “If you are standing so far back that your arm does not bend, you will be perceived as someone who is afraid to get close.”
The American Psychological Association published “Your Handshake May Provide More Information To Others Than You Think” by William F. Chaplin, Ph.D. A study involving 112 male and female college students concluded that a person’s handshake becomes consistent over time. It reveals your personality. Is your handshake “style” communicating the right message?
6. Understand the significance of a good first impression.
When someone perceives you negatively, it’s extremely difficult to change his perception.
“’Thin Slices’ of Life” by Lea Winerman documented the study of 250 classmates who rated each other’s personality traits as well as their own. Scientists discovered that “Self-ratings, however, don’t necessarily provide accurate descriptions of everyone’s personality.”
Additionally, Nature.com published “A Neural Mechanism of First Impressions” by Daniela Schiller and Elizabeth Phelps, psychology researchers. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain revealed that the amygdala contributes to social evaluations involving trust or racial bias. The posterior cingulate cortex has been linked to decision making and autobiographical memories.
7. Become culturally sensitive.
In “Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands,” Terri Morrison and Wayne Conaway discuss the negative consequences of failing to understand cultural differences. Hindus and vegetarian customers sued McDonald’s for its pure vegetable oil that actually contained beef flavorings. The fast food giant paid $10 million.
Educated consumers research their favorite brands and expect a positive, interactive experience. Jay Baer, a digital marketing adviser at Convinceandconvert.com, stated, “Now, 47% of Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior…” Social media – a global revolution – drives sales.
8. Hone your interpersonal skills.
A great career must have great relationships. In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, it doesn’t matter who you know. The question is who knows you. Have you formed strategic partnerships with people who are willing to support your entrepreneurial vision of the next big thing?
Whitney Walden, a former director of first impressions for Cumulus Media was recently promoted to account executive. She said, “That position is actually how I got this one at ESPN Radio!
Cross-cultural relationships surpass proper business etiquette. As Walden said, “You are basically setting a standard during that first encounter.” What happens during the first 60 seconds is totally up to you.