As a graduate of language, I can identify with the rewards of learning a second or even a third language. I’m lucky enough to have lived and worked in several different countries by the age of 23, utilising and nurturing my skills whilst developing passions for European cuisine and culture.
The advantages of having the ability to speak another language, particularly in the world of business, are beyond compare. Globalisation is an ever-intensifying factor of today’s society. You may be attending an event in Tokyo that was coordinated by a German company. The product or idea that you want to sell to a Spanish consumer may have been developed with the help of an Italian conglomerate. It is in scenarios such as these that one begins to recognise the importance of language in commerce. In all areas of business, communication is key. In advertising, it forms the very basis of our industry. In other words, it is indispensable.
I’ve heard countless people say, “What’s the point of learning another language? Everybody speaks English.” Well, to be frank, you could actually find yourself at a loss for being monolingual. “But I was useless in French class at school!” I hear you cry.
Or perhaps your excessively firm German Frau, throughout your teenage years, was enough to put you off for life. Do not fear! There is still one other universal language that just about everybody is more than capable of making progress in: body language. It plays an incredibly key role in effective leadership and communication.
Most professionals already understand the significance of showing confidence in a meeting, interview or pitch. But eye contact, a firm handshake and a smiling face are just the foundation. And whilst enthusiasm is always welcomed, over exuberance and a lack of subtlety can also be detrimental. The saying “first impressions are everything” didn’t become a cliché for nothing!
You also might be presenting several different ideas to a client and you may catch their eyes lingering on one particular image for just that split second longer. Or you may notice them lean closer toward you whilst you talk them through a specific idea. In learning to identify these often-momentary reactions, you are opening yourself up to a wealth of implicit knowledge and understanding. In turn, this ability to read body language can help you to evaluate the situation there and then, instead of second-guessing how well you did later on. In a situation where you may not speak your client’s language well, having an understanding of the right body language could be the key to determining whether or not you win that pitch.
Georgiana Foster works in new Business Development at gyro London.
Follow her @GiorgianaFoster