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Chromatics, Olfactics and Physical Appearance

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Chromatics, Olfactics and Physical Appearance

Welcome dear participants to the 3rd Module of the fourth week.In this module we would be discussing Chromatics, Olfactics as well as the significance of PhysicalAppearance to understand the kinetic signals of other people.Chromatics as well as Ofactics have recently emerged as subcategory of non-verbal aspectsof communication.They were not included in the initial discussions of Ray Birdwhistell or Hall etcetera.Chromatics is the way we respond to different colors.Our visual sense is used in an active manner as well as in a passive manner.Chromatics is our communication of messages through colors.It is a vital aspect of non-verbal communication though still not much work has been done inthis area.Our visual sense can be used in an active as well as in a passive manner and therefore,it responses in almost an immediate and subconscious manner like all the other aspects of non-verbalcommunication.Colors also have cultural meanings and they represent different traits and perceptionsin different cultures.A color may have a particular meaning in a particular culture, but in the other cultureit may have a different interpretation.For example in certain countries black is the color of mourning whereas, in certainother cultures it is considered to be the white which is appropriate during these unfortunateoccasions.In the context of interpersonal and business communication, there may be two ways of respondingto these findings associated with how we interpret and respond to different colors.Primarily, we look at colors in our surroundings and in the design of a space, offices spacefor example.The role of color is important and therefore, we can say that colors hold a certain powerin business and professional world.It is particularly visible in marketing where the color, which has been used for presentinga brands logo and visual identity, becomes dominant.Even though when we look at a brands logo there are different types of visual cues,shapes, numbers, certain words would also be there, but what stands out ultimately isthe color which we normally remember and the use of color increases brand recognition byup to 80 percent.At the practical level we find that a clever and well thought out use of color in a brandmakes it a standout in a crowd.The relationship between brand and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the colorbeing an exact fit for this situation.Colors are not only important for marketing, but we find that in our clothing, in our choiceof accessories, in the way we package our gifts etcetera.We pass on messages which may be intended, but mostly they are unintended.The cross-cultural significance also has to be understood.At the same time we find that colors impact the work culture in an organization as wellas the corporate identity which can be created with the help of certain colors.Natalie Boyd has commented on the cultural associations of color in business packagingin the United States.Warm colors such as red, orange, yellow etcetera increase anxiety, appetite, arousal and therefore,fast food chains often choose color combinations of red and yellow because these colors increaseappetite.On the other hand, cool colors produce an effect which is soothing and they stimulatethinking and therefore, they are preferred in the interior decoration of restaurants.Our choice of color suggests our attitudes to other people and at the same time the choiceof color in our surroundings influences our moods also.The use of those colors which are aesthetically pleasing in our surrounding create a positivestimulation in us at the workplace and they help us in retaining our focus during ourofficial interactions.Choosing inadequate colors may impact employees by causing not only eye strain or headache,but also it can encourage a sense of fatigue.Also I would refer to a very interesting finding of Doctor David Lewis, a color psychologistwho has found in his research that about 80 percent employees believe that the color oftheir surroundings has a significant impact on their emotions and performance.A well planned use of colors which are able to stimulate positive feelings amongst theemployees would lead them to better creativity and innovative ideas.We understand that colors have a psychological association and they have thus a certain communicativevalue.For example, performance feel more relaxed in a green room and weightlifters do theirbest in blue colored gyms, but beyond this in the professional world it is our choiceof colors through different accessories which we carry on our body that we reflect our personalityand our attitudes to other.Different color psychologists have commented that wearing the right shades at workplaceis important because it helps us in creating a particular impact on our colleagues as wellas on our bosses and can enhance our career choices.This finding brings us to the next logical question and that is what may be the suitablecolors for professional contexts.A darker colors convey a sense of authority whereas, lighter shades project an approachableimage.Different findings are almost unanimous in this suggestion that the appropriate colorfor the professional attires for all genders is either black or navy blue.Some psychologists have suggested gray also, but the majority is in favor of black or navyblue.These colors are associated with traits like authority and power.Black particularly is also associated with a positive sense of aggression in the senseof being assertive.Researchers also lead us to think that there is a certain relationship between the colorwhich is chosen for a uniform and the behavior of the employees as well as the behavior ofa customer towards an employee who is dressed in a particular color.Industries have always taken advantage of these researchers.Different industries have different goals and messages which they want to convey andfulfill.They also have different brand images and even within a particular organization we findthat different segments perform different type of duties.And therefore, they want to use the subliminal effect of color psychology to trigger subconsciousand deeply rooted emotional responses in how people think behave and make their choicesin the workplace.Colors also have the capability to substantially impart a sense of efficiency and positivityin the workplace if used correctly.A study of Creighton University conducted in 1999 found that employees who were wearinguniforms in different shades of blue felt calm and they also felt more hopeful abouttheir professional roles and competence.The choice of uniform colors conveys particular sets of subconscious messages.For example, the medical staff, doctors, lab workers are always dressed in white becauseit imparts a sense of purity and also evokes associations of sanitation and sterility.McDonald has used yellow and red combination to capture the associated traits of excitementas far as red is concerned, and they conveyed feelings of warmth and happiness which areconventionally associated with yellow.These associations have also been supported by research.This chart displays the normal associations which we have with different colors.These are based not only on common perceptions, but they have also been supported by scientificresearches.Even though this chart displays the dominant perceptions as well as findings of scientificresearches, there are cultural variations in the way we interpret different colors.Let us look at these cultural variations.Now the red color has different associations in different cultures in China.It is associated with good luck, but for many Koreans it symbolizes just the opposite.In countries like France and Britain, it is perceived to be a masculine color.In Japan it is associated with happiness; in Ghana on the other hand it is associatedwith a sense of sorrow.In certain other African countries, it is associated with witchcraft and symbolizesdeath.Researchers have also found that in affiliative situations, people who are attired in redcolor are perceived to be more attractive, however in achievement situations red is associatedwith negative or avoidant responses.It is said also about the intellectual achievement context in which our competence is evaluated,where red is associated with failure and green is associated with success.Despite these findings we find that the normal associations in people’s mind of red arewith energy and passion which remain vivid and are often used as marketing strategy.I would refer here to a very interesting article by Rebecca Gross who has analyzed certainbrand colors to prove this idea.She has referred to the brand of Kombi which sells a warm winter clothing suitable forthe Canadian climate.Its brand identity is based on red which evokes feelings of warmth as well as its associationswith the colors of the Canadian flag.She is also referred to the visual identity of the Swedish Democratic Youth League whichhas used red as it is a strongly tied to the political affiliations and the traditionalsymbol of the red rolls as far as the Swedish Democratic Party is concerned.Different associations of blue have also been used to represent peace and tranquility andit is always associated with the blue of the sky or the sea in this sense.In most countries, it is viewed as a masculine color.Iran is an exception where blue is considered as an undesirable color.Despite the positive associations which color has in our psychology, we find that in languageit communicates a negative meaning to be in.The blue expresses a melancholy attitude and suggest depression.However the positive aspects of blue have been used as marketing strategy and a particularbrand which has used different shades of blue very effectively is the one of Wo Hing generalstore which draws on the rich visual language that combines vibrant blue with light blue.It pays homage to the bright lights of Asia and at the same time portrays eye space andatmosphere which is soothing to look at.Another example is of the brunt images of a life coaching company Siegfried which isabout communication and leadership.The blue in the advertisements of this life coaching company suggest professionalism aswell as dependability.Different shades of green are also used in marketing strategy.The bright yet light green color indicates growth, vitality and renewal whereas, thericher shades of green which are darker in tone represent wealth, abundance and prestige.Rebecca Gross has taken examples of two brands.One is of the business card for Albahaca restaurant which uses vibrant green and it is associatedwith the restaurants namesake hub suggesting fresh and healthy food.Another example which has been cited by her is related with the branding by Kokoro andMoi to promote their street food festival in Helsinki.The fluorescent green communicates the neon lights of Asia’s night markets as well asthe fresh and experimental food which people expect in such situations.Black is another color which has multiple associations.It is associated with exclusivity, power, sophistication as well as high end technology.On the other hand, it is also associated with a funeral atmosphere and they evoke sorrow.In marketing strategies, it has often been used in metallic and glossy shades often contrastedwith other bold colors for suggesting power and exclusivity as well as technical competence.White is associated with purity and innocence and has been successfully used in marketingof those brands where the personality is about simplicity, purity and transparency.Colors also have certain customary associations.For example, in Brazil people tend to avoid wearing shades of green and yellow becausethese are the colors of the Brazilian flag and the people of brazil do not want to useit for their day to day apparels.This practice is very different from the American practice where the colors of the flag canbe worn on any type of a product at the same time colors also have religious symbolism.For example, Saffron is considered sacred in Hinduism whereas, green is considered tobe sacred in Islam.In the context of professional communication, we also have to look at the color in contexttheory which is a broad model of color and psychological functioning.That explains and predicts relations between color and its effect, cognition and behavior.According to this theory, color is a non-lexical visual stimulus that can symbolically conveyvarious types of information about the person who is carrying a particular color.It is also associated with different meanings which have psychological relevance and thisrelevance goes beyond the intrinsic values of colors as well as beyond the simplisticand superficial appraisals of pleasantness and unpleasantness.Our brain is capable of processing them almost immediately and automatically.I would also refer to a very interesting book which talks about this aspect of non-verbalcommunication.It is by John Gage.The title of the book is Color and Culture Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstractionpublished in 1999, wherein he has suggested that color is a contingent historical occurrencewhose meaning like language lies in the particular context in which it is experienced and interpreted.Other theorists like Elliot and Maier have also suggested that the meaning of a particularcolor cannot be dissociated from the context or the environment in which it is encountered.And it is a context which affects our perception of a color and gives an additional understandingand information.For example, the shape and the texture of the object on which the color is seen, theplacing of this object in a particular environment etcetera also provide additional interpretationsof a particular color.Nonetheless we can say that colors affect our personal as well as professional livesby imparting clues about our personality to others.Moment you open your eyes in the morning, your brain is flooded with over seven millioncolors.Believe it or not some colors can even give you a headache.Once you understand the psychology behind colors, you will be better equipped to takeon the world.With an understanding of the basic colors, you can become a better marketer and makemore sales.You can use the power of certain colors to influence people and make yourself more persuasive.Knowledge of color psychology can even help you read another persons personality justby looking at the color of their car.Although we see the world in 7 million different colors, most people do not have the slightestclue how colors affect their mood and purchasing decisions.By wearing certain colors you can make people feel a certain way which could help you succeedin a variety of different situations.For example, imagine you have an interview tomorrow and you really want the job, butthere is a long list of applicants before and after your interview.Now, the color blue is associated with loyalty and trust, so the simple act of wearing blueto the interview will make the hiring manager unconsciously trust you more.Imagine you have a major business deal coming up or some other important event.By wearing blue you have seen more trustworthy and the business deal is more likely to turnout in your favor.This is just one example of what one color can do for you.Another major color is black and although it might not seem very exciting, it has powerfulpsychological effects on the observer.The psychology behind the color black says that it reflects power and authority.But it could also make you appear to be sinister or evil.If you are trying to attract girls who want to be with an authoritative man, then do notforget to customize your wardrobe with black clothes.Black also has slimming effects and it works wonders for people who are overweight andneed to look slimmer for a spoke.Neither you understand the major colors and the psychology behind them, you should knowhow this knowledge can be used to read another person’s personalityOnce you have studied psychology long enough, you will start to realize that the colorssurrounding a person can directly or indirectly tell you a lot about his personality.The secret is paying attention to the cars, clothes and gadgets that he owns.Imagine you walk into a gym and see 15 different people all going about their business andtrying to get stronger and healthier.Without this knowledge you would never consider the colors of their iPods, wristbands, shoesor water bottles and what they can tell you about each person’s personality.And therefore, it is understood as an emerging dimension of non-verbal aspects of communication.Another aspect which I would take up for discussion is olfactics which means communication throughsmell and scent.It is a much neglected and less studied aspect of body language and its significance is beingfelt only recently.In our social functioning, scent has a certain role and it also has a psychological significance.At the outset we can say that pleasant smells serve to attract whereas, unpleasant onesrepel others.But it is not easy to diagnose a particular scent as being pleasant or unpleasant one.The association of a particular smell with memory is always there.Our old memories often are associated with certain smells and the repetition of a particularsmell may carry us backward in time.At the same time if the smell is associated with a currently occurring experience, weretain it in our memory in totality.A smell can also act as a system of warning.Some cultures are more smell conscious than others and it sensitizes us to the fact thatin our appreciation of smells also, cultural variations do exist in most of the developedcountries.It is normally found that people are uncomfortable with body odors and smells and therefore,they spend a lot of money on wearing artificially created scents.A study tell us that in America many people consider that the body odor is offensive andwould avoid talking or interacting with a person who has strong body smells and therefore,there is a very strong market of scents, colognes, deo’s, aftershaves etcetera which helpsus to overpower the natural body odors.In contrast we find in that in Arabic countries there is a better acceptance of body odorsand they are considered to be natural part.Our preferences in terms of smell are not universal and therefore, similar to otherinterpretations of non-verbal codes.Olfactics can also impact intercultural communication as well as can impair our willingness to beengaged in a dialogue with other people.Our scent is influenced by our natural body odor.It is also influenced by our habits in terms of our hygiene and the use of a particularsmell in the shape of a perfume or deo.It is also influenced by certain activities which may be sweat inducing.It is also influenced by our health because certain illnesses because certain ailmentshave an odor, but a smell is not just a biological and psychological experience, it is also asocial and cultural phenomena and it determines our preference as well as aversions and atthe same time it passes on definite clues about our social positions, economic class,status and power.For example, wearing an expensive perfume, cologne or aftershave can signal a certainstatus and wealth.On the other hand, there is strong odor of sweat can indicate a person who is perhapsfrom a lower financial status and who has to indulge in a lot of manual labor.A smell can thus be used effectively to create a good non-verbal impression.A positive smell in a particular context in a critical situation can create a positiveimpression on the other people.It is interesting to note that the Western notions of which fragrances are aestheticallypleasant is not universal.Researchers have pointed out some very interesting habits and preferences in this context.A particular section in Ethiopia, which raises cattles, finds that there is no scent whichis more attractive than the odor of cows, for the Dogon of Mali the scent of onion isthe most attractive fragrance and there are fried onions all over their bodies is a highlydesirable perfumes.For the African Bushmen, the loveliest fragrance is that of the rain and they would find thatthe western taste are distinctly lacking in subtlety.Arabic cultures have a very complex aesthetics as far as the use of scents and perfumes isconcerned.Women use a wide range of scents to perfume different parts of their bodies, but theseperfumes are used by women only in private situations in the company of other women orclose family members.To wear perfumes in public or in the company of men is considered to be an indication ofadulteress models.This aspect has been very succinctly put by Jelena Djordjevic, a French clinical neuropsychologist,who has said that even basic processes such as smelling a scent are influenced by wherewe come from and what we know.The complexities of the personal odor are the subject of sophisticated classificationsystems in many other cultures.I would like to point out particular finding which suggests that the average member ofthe Amazonian Desana community will readily explain that an individual's unique odor isa combination of different smells.The word which is used by them is Oma Seriri and it is a combination of natural personalodors which are acquired through the food one eats, odors which are caused by emotionsand periodic odors which are related to fertility.The assessment of the components of personal body odor is scientifically accurate and unlikewestern scientists, the Desana are also able to describe each of these smells which areinvolved in this process in minute and vivid detail.Industries are also based around our preoccupations of smells and odors we can look at the marketwhich is there for different types of perfumes, colognes, sprays which we use to sanitizeand create scents in our homes etcetera.In Japan particularly fragrance is used in the workplace also.The architectural and construction firm Shimizu has developed computerized techniques to deliverscents through air conditioning ducts, so that the efficiency of the employees can beenhanced and the stress level can be reduced.Advertisers also believe that smell is important and British stores use natural smells suchas that of freshly dried linen, chocolate or musk in the air conditioning systems toput customers in a happy and positive frame.So, we can conclude that a smell has a commercial presence.This brings us to the discussion of our physical appearance and artifacts which also transmitsmessages.Our body language as well as our appearance reveal a lot.Most of us notice another person’s physical appearance and body language before we noticeanything else and our primary considerations are often based on these two aspects.Correct outfit and appropriate accessories help us to elicit specific and targeted results.They help us to pass on certain messages in a profound manner and create a particularimpression on the viewer.At the same time our choices in this context convey clues about our socio economic status,however the idea extends beyond the business and the professional world.We find that different segments of the society have their own preferences as far as physicalappearance and the use of artifacts is concerned we can look at the dress code, the hair doand accessories of soccer players or bikers or political leaders for that matter and acomparative understanding can tell us about the significance of our physical appearanceand the use of artifacts in creating a particular type of a personality.These issues were traditionally studied by ethnologist and behavioral scientist, butthey are now being taken up in intercultural and business communications also.The primary reason for taking up these studies is based on this idea that our accessoriessymbolize our sense of self-respect.The clothes we wear, the cell phone cover we choose, the wallet which we carry, thesunglasses which we have, the tattoos which we may or may not have communicate our choicesas well as decisions which in turn are based on our feelings and emotions.They project our gender, position, our status, personality as well as our affiliation eitherwith a particular group or a particular sect.In general it can be said that accessories need to be clean and in good shape.If belt which is frayed, shoes which are scuffed and a banded up briefcase not only look unkempt,but they also suggest a personality which is not bothered to look after them.So, we send the message that we do not care about them enough to maintain them properlyand this can be easily interpreted as an indication of a person who is lazy and cannot be bothered.So, about physical appearance and the use of accessories enables other people to formopinions about our personality, however the underlying factor in our choices should beappropriateness within an environment and by environment we mean the situation and theplace where the communication takes place.It requires a certain awareness of different cultural values, our sensitivity towards itand an empathetic planning to foresee these differences and plan for them.Accessories have their own language; fabrics also have their own language.For example, cashmere and cotton suggest that the wearer is sophisticated and also a wellto do person.Hard materials like leather etcetera suggest a belligerence and assertiveness which isnot welcome in certain professions.The type of shoes which we wear also indicate a particular politics a particular statusas well as age and fashion sense.A study also indicate that a professional dress and appearance increases confidenceand imparts a broader perspective to people.Another aspect which has come under the purview of body language now is the study of tattoos.Tattoos represent a specific form of body language.They are like a permanent decoration to our body which cannot be easily removed.And therefore, they are often termed as a self-branding, a scar that speak and yet cannotbe replied to easily.They assert what is there and this assertion, in a way, is frozen in our flesh.Some researchers suggest that a distinction has to be drawn between fashion and anti-fashion.According to them fashion has to be characterized by continual and systematic change.On the other hand, an anti-fashion is relatively conservative and is very resistant to change.Tattoos are normally put in this category of anti-fashion.They create an illusion of social and cultural affiliation and stability.Having said all this, I would reiterate that the recognition of context for effective communicationis necessary.What exactly is the message which we want to communicate, who are the recipients ofit and what type of effect would be generated in them.I would like to refer to our great leader, the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi whowas often ridiculed by the western media as the half-naked fakir.But the very fact that he was dressed in this manner suggested that he had an emotionalattachment with the masses of our country and he truly represented them.No fashion sense can be greater than this empathetic understanding which people havefor a particular context.I would end my discussion of these aspects of body language at this point.In our next module, I would take up certain other emerging aspects of non-verbal communication.Thank you.