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13. Human’s manners Communication is not just about language, grammar, vocabulary, and how to make sentences. Your body can talk too, but it may not speak the same language – different countries use different body language. A. In some countries, such as the USA, you look people in the eye when you are speaking. If you don’t, they may think you are not interested in them. But in many Asian societies, it is rude to look someone in the eye, especially a superior. A junior person must always look down when speaking to older people or superiors. B. In Islamic cultures, people eat with their right hand, and use the left one for bathroom functions only. It is very rude to give someone an object with your left hand. In Asia people use both hands to give something or to receive something from another person. C. Latin Americans usually stand closer together than North Americans and Europeans, who only stand close when they want to say something intimate or secret. So, for some, people who stand too close seem too friendly; for others, people who stand too far away seem unfriendly. D. In Asian countries you do not cross your feet or legs in the presence of a superior. It’s also important to remain physically lower if you are socially inferior. So, when a Thai man sees an older woman he may show his respect by sitting down on the only chair. In Thailand it’s also important not to show the bottom of your feet. E. In many societies, the correct response to certain questions or requests is to say nothing. In Britain saying nothing often means maybe. A Japanese person often stays silent in order to find out more about the person who is talking. Most Westerners think this means that the Japanese person doesn’t understand so they usually repeat what they have said. XXX When we go for an interview, most of us think carefully about what to wear and what to say but hardly ever about how toact – in other words, what our body language is telling the interviewer. So can we appear cool when we are feeling so nervous? Judy James, a body language specialist and author, says that the most interviewees who ask for advice are told “Just be yourself”. This, she says, is the wrong approach. “If you are just going to be yourself, why not turn up in an old tracksuit? You would never do that, so why just “be yourself” in body language? Instead, by marketing your body language, you can control your own success”. According to experts, body language accounts for 55 per cent of the effect we have when communicating. Tone of voice accounts for 33 per cent, and words for just 7 per cent – so what you say matters much less than how you behave. Employers nowadays are cautious about the fast talking interviewee who has learned certain words and phrases but who may be hiding a basic lack of knowledge or simply lying. So they look increasingly for other signs, which will show a person’s character and ability – such as body language. You will be more impressive at an interview if you have prepared by doing a “dress rehearsal” of your facial expressions and hand movements in front of a mirror. It sounds ridiculous but it works. When it comes to facial signals, you should always smile when you enter the interview room and when the interview has finished, because first and last impressions count. Try to smile from eyes first – if models can do this, so can we. There is no worse than a painted – on smile and terrified eyes. You should also try to maintain eye - contact with the interviewer, but not too long. If you are in front of a panel of interviews, look first at the person who asked you a question, and then at each of the other panel members in turn. Looking just at the questioner is a common mistake. Once you are sitting down, your hands should generally stay loosely in your lap. Use them to make a point occasionally but never raise them above shoulder level, and do not play with your hair, watchstrap and orjewellery. Telltale signs that the interview has gone well are increased eye contact, the repetition of your name and perhaps even some closer body space. A look of relief may also be a give-away sign – the process of choosing a candidate is stressful for interviewers, too. If you have not been impressive, the interviewer will be trying not to behave in a familiar fashion. Telltale signs are avoiding eye contact and a parting handshake, which is firmer than the one, which you were greeted with. Body language is a subject that we have all heard about, yet we are not aware of the effect that our own body language has on others. In fact, it is vital – and after someone has noticed it for the first time, even subconsciously, they are unlikely to change their opinion because of what you say. So, at an interview, take the trouble to get it right.