Women have to watch their body language

15th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

15 July 2004 , AACHEN - Women in top management positions are a rarity. Body language factors often puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to promotion even if they bring along knowledge and expertise. "Women have difficulty in taking up space," says Alfred Gerhards, who coaches on body language in the western German city of Aachen. "Men take up more space when standing or sitting. Women mostly are smaller and have to assert themselves against the man," he adds. "In addition women often subconciously ma

15 July 2004

AACHEN - Women in top management positions are a rarity. Body language factors often puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to promotion even if they bring along knowledge and expertise.

"Women have difficulty in taking up space," says Alfred Gerhards, who coaches on body language in the western German city of Aachen.

"Men take up more space when standing or sitting. Women mostly are smaller and have to assert themselves against the man," he adds.

"In addition women often subconciously make themselves smaller than they really are. Protective body postures like folding the arms in front of the body or crossing the legs cannot contribute to a self-confident appearance," Gerhards explains.

Communication trainer Heike Eichinger says such body posture also "expresses insecurity and the need to be protected".

He points out: "The more insecure a person is the higher the hands move. It can be playing with a necklace or pulling at ones ear."

Women also have a natural disadvantage: their voice.

"The voice pitch moves immediately higher in a state of excitement or anger," Gerhards says. This is "interpreted as loss of control".

He adds: "What as seen with a man as determination is interpreted as 'hysterical' with a woman."

Eichinger advises women to train not only their voices but also their breathing.

"A person who has an upright body posture and breaths at the same time into the stomach has the voice under control," she says.

There are several tips and tricks to train the body, but it is virtually impossible to imitate a certain body posture, according to coach Wolfgang Weiner.

"It is only possible to take a different attitude which automatically changes body language," he says.

Eichinger explains that "if I follow an idea in my mind, the body follows. A person adopting a specific body posture does not appear authentic".

The situation, according to experts, gets more and more difficult the higher a woman moves up the career ladder, where she is often at the centre of attention.

"Either she is seen as having used her female attributes to achieve that position," according to Gerhards, "or when she doesn't fit that image with appearance, dress and attitude the other extreme applies - that she is too manly".

DPA

Subject: German news

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