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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

This Body Language Consultant Tells Women How To Change Compliant Behaviour Into Leadership

  • IWB Post
  •  December 11, 2017

“Don’t sit like that, you’re a girl.” I have grown up listening to this and still continue to do so. Indians have this weird obsession with telling every girl to sit and behave appropriately. However, Khyati Bhatt, a body language consultant, tells us why we shouldn’t be saying this to our girls.

Body language, posture, the tone of voice, all matter in building your impression. But why do we need to pay attention to these details? Non-verbal communication comprises two-thirds of all communications, so think twice before you cross your hands while talking to someone the next time.

Khyati started Simply Body Talk in 2013 to groom a hobby close to her heart. She believes that from wedding planners, educational institutes, business owners to village artisans if there is one thing that remains constant, it is body language. We asked her to give us few tips on how to conduct ourselves.

Let’s start with you shedding some light on non-verbal communication being more effective than verbal communication.

The limbic brain developed in humans before language was developed. It was conditioned in a way that when an animal would pass by the house, humans could make out if it is going to attack or not. Thus, the limbic brain is very fast, and that is where non-verbal communication comes from. So, yes, I would say it is very useful because you understand a person even before your thinking brain has had time to develop a response. It doesn’t mean that one should ignore verbal communication because once the brain starts processing what the person is saying it becomes a mixture of verbal and non-verbal in understanding the person.

And how can one harness the power of non-verbal communication and behaviour?

Non-verbal communication is primarily engaging your five senses of smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing in your day-to-day life. It is not just limited to how humans interact with each other. This happens to us on a daily basis because even something as small as the music playing in the store plays a role in deciding what kind of music you want to buy.

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What are the various processes you use?

At our company, we have broken down non-verbal communication in three parts; first impression, body language, and non-verbal appeal or behavior. All of this helps one understand the person beyond what they are speaking in real time. Secondly, we look at why they have come to us. Usually, they either want to learn about it, for which we use the Q-connect model, or they want to bring a change in their own body language, so then we teach them how to introspect and bring about a transformation. We can’t use structured models for every person, so we have various models we use that are tailored according to the subject by people who have years of experience.

I went to your website, and I found it very fascinating that you help advertising agencies through this?

We have three different verticals; consulting, coaching, and learning. Advertising comes under consulting. Basically, we help agencies make sure that their message is getting across. For example, if it is a clothing ad, and the model doesn’t look comfortable or confident then the message the company is trying to send across is not being portrayed correctly. If you don’t get a feeling of connecting with the ad, you don’t really read what is written further. After putting so much effort and investment into shoots, at the end of it, if you don’t select the correct picture, then it is all good for nothing, and that is where we come in.

How do you help agencies during production?

There are some small tricks and tweaks we teach the photographers and directors. What works in one context doesn’t work in another. So we either give them on-site consultation or phone consultation. For example, during a couple’s shoot, I was assisting a photographer, and the model was lost because the chemistry wasn’t coming across and the photographer kept telling them to show chemistry. I just advised the photographer to ask the model to turn her neck and wrist towards her counterpart, and that small change made a difference. So that is how we help during production.

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Tell us how start-ups can use this to build a healthy team culture.

Start-ups usually begin with one or two members and then they grow into a team. So, between partners, it is essential for them to know the behavioral patterns of the other person. If someone has worked all night and is sluggish the next day, if the other person knows how they usually are, for example, their way of saying good morning or when they smile at you, they can give the person the benefit of the doubt that they are sluggish today for a reason. Another way this can help start-ups is when they pitch to investors. We work with them and teach them how to confidently deliver a good pitch.

And, what does your training of corporates look like?

In corporate training, we hold either a full-day or a half-day event or seminar. We also do consultation on a one-to-one basis, so it depends on the company’s requirements. It is highly customised, so the content too depends on what kind of team it is. I don’t have a standard demo model, everything we do has a lot of research that goes into it.

Could you give us some tips on how women can break into male-dominated roles using such techniques?

According to my observations, two to three different aspects need to be covered for Indian women. One being the Indian attire, as it doesn’t allow for a lot of dominance. From pre-historic times, men used to hunt, and women used to be homemakers. So, for any authoritative figure, you need to have that hunter’s aggression and dominance. To counter this, we guide women on how to display such dominance.

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There are also many cultural behaviours, for example in Japan if someone had to say yes they will nod their head from top to bottom. In India, you would shake your head side to side. So, many cultural behaviours also restrict communication. In India, it further becomes complicated because women are not expected to talk about what they think. This comes from many of our societal institutions, like arranged marriage. So, in the Indian set-up, we help women segregate their work behaviour and their behaviour at home, which is one of the many examples of how we guide women to be leaders.

Getting back to one of the points you mentioned, how does Indian attire figure into body language?

I will not get into grooming per se, but from the perspective of women, I can explain. Suppose if a leader is wearing a coat and they want to tell the team that they can confide in them, then they can probably remove their coat and pull up their sleeves; so, the employees will get a feeling that the boss is someone they can talk to with ease. Someone who is wearing a saree wouldn’t be able to get the same thing across. So, we’re trying to develop counter display behaviors, especially for Indian women. So, this is how an attire can restrict very obvious displays.

Share with us some parenting strategies that will help raise confident daughters.

One basic thing parents can do is avoid saying that their daughters cannot do something, especially in mannerisms of sitting or standing. There is a Harvard psychologist who has written an entire book just about this. Grooming plays a critical role in how we’re perceived. So, when a person is more concerned about how they are looking and first impressions, they will keep running their hands through their hair or fidgeting with earrings, etc. When you do this, the other person’s orientation reflex will concentrate on your actions rather than what you are saying.

We are the most observant when we are kids, and if at that time the child notices that parents don’t look at each other when they are eating, the child will assume that is the way of the world. There are essential things that we need to be aware of when raising a child. We should not restrict kids from activities and differentiate what we teach them just because of their gender. Mostly girls are asked to be very disciplined while boys are asked to play rough.

How can women learn about predatory behavior beyond just good touch and bad touch?

I think learning about predatory body language is as essential for men as it is for women. So, the best way to begin is to care about one’s personal space. It means the physical space around you into which you’d like to invite somebody. In our workshops, we teach people that these are the small things we need to be careful about. If someone is trying to enter your personal space, you need to be sure that you know who the person is. Also, something as simple as someone constantly looking at you can give out signals that this is somebody who doesn’t have the right intentions.

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There are many expressions we show our subjects to understand what they mean. The amount of space you take up is how confident you are. If you’re clutching your purse and standing it shows that you’re very uncomfortable and nervous. Anyone who sees this can make out that this is someone who is not confident and they become easier targets. I am not saying one should expose themselves too much, but always appear confident as this can help keep a lot of people at a distance.

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