As they interviewed each other, Marzieh and Rachel were very comfortable with each other. Both of them did not only appear relaxed but were showing what is referred to as an “attentive body language. ” This body language is exhibited by one who is really interested in what the other person is saying. More often than not, an attentive body language being shown by a listener is reciprocated by the speaker when it is the listener’s turn to speak. Graphically illustrated, when A talks, B is very attentive so that when it is B’s turn to speak, A shows the same rapt attention to what B is saying.
An attentive body language is also characterized by “stillness” – meaning that while the speaker talks, the listener is very immobile, seemingly afraid that even his or her own movements might become a source of distraction. As B listens to what A is saying, it is not uncommon for him or her to slightly “lean forward” in order to hear everything being said as much as to show his or her interest in what is being narrated (ChangingMinds. org, n. d. ). This happened when Marzieh and Rachel were interviewing each other.
While Marzieh talked, Rachel was all ears. When it was Rachel’s turn to speak, Marzieh was just as attentive. In other words, what happened was that Marzieh and Rachel were so engrossed with each other’s experiences that they did not even seem to notice the presence of a nearby observer. Perhaps what caught their mutual interest was the subject of their conversation, namely: problems that confronted them in their work. They were comparing notes about the organizational as well as personnel problems in their places of work.
They tried to look for common denominators in their workplace issues and questions were asked of each other concerning how their coworkers dealt with such issues. For instance, whenever Marzieh would raise a problem which was observed by Rachel in her organization, Rachel would immediately ask her how her affected coworkers solved such problems, and vice versa. When interviewed by Rachel, Marzieh talked about uncooperative coworkers and indifferent supervisors.
Marzieh, who had worked for two years as a Teaching Assistant (TA) at Eastern Mediterranean University in the Republic of Cyprus, was telling Rachel about how her fellow TA’s (there were six of them who came from different cultures) would refuse to cover for their fellow TA’s even if they needed to take time out for urgent needs. What her fellow TAs would do, according to Marzieh, was to work only as much as what they felt their salaries required them to and believed that covering for their fellow TA’s was going over and above what they were being paid to do.
She believed that the atmosphere of uncooperativeness was also a result of cultural diversity which her coworkers failed to comprehend and get to grips with. Marzieh’s supervisors, in her capacity as a TA, were university professors. According to her, most of them were indifferent to the TA’s needs. Most of them did not care what happened to the TA’s as long as they could be useful in the research projects they were undertaking. In other words, they did not care how the TA’s treated each other as long as they get the research output that they needed from the TA’s.
Marzieh was also complaining about the lack of managerial skill on the part of the chairman of their department. Rachel, on the other hand, was a former Clinical Research Associate at the Boston Clinical Research Institute. She replied to Marzieh’s questions by citing her reasons for leaving her former work. Her first reason was her desire to change her field of employment. She told Rachel that she decided to look for a greener pasture – where her future would be insured. She saw no room for improvement in an organization which subsisted mainly on federal grants.
Then she recounted her dissatisfaction with the organizational culture of her former employer. According to Rachel, the culture at the Boston Clinical Research Institute was a highly competitive culture. What she was trying to say was that employees were so competitive with each other that cooperation was almost impossible to attain. She explained that it was the main reason why she found it very difficult to adjust to and relate with her coworkers when she first joined the organization. Her final reason was the high turnover rate.
In other words, employees were leaving the organization precipitately because they were not properly motivated. Marzieh and Rachel succeeded in eliciting data from each other concerning problems in their former places of work. However, what clearly stood out was their failure to ask the other what she did to try to remedy the situation. Did she ever talk with her supervisor/s about the problem? Or did she, in fact, propose any recommendation/s that might have solved the problem?
ChangingMinds. org. (n. d. ). Using Body Language. Retrieved May 23, 2008 from http://changingminds. org/techniques/body/body_language. htm