Vacation body language

Even on vacation, your body language is coming through loud and clear!

by Barbara Chatzkel

July and August are traditionally vacation months for many Americans. After a lot of planning, millions of people depart for eagerly awaited weeklong or two-week-long vacations. The goal for many of them is to relax and “get away from work.”


Here’s a secret: While you may be on vacation, your business body language is sending out a continuous stream of messages. It’s better not to ignore what your body language is saying.

Here are five tips for good vacation business body language etiquette:


1. Smile. Travel is an adventure. Many view it as fun, but some people are stressed by the change in routine and environment. A friendly, genuine smile goes a long way in saying a nonverbal hello and to diffuse stress for other travelers.

2. Take up just the right amount of space – not too much, not too little, but just right. This sends the message that you are part of the community of travelers and not someone hogging valuable chair space in the airport waiting area or precious overhead bin space. Be aware of others’ personal space requirements. Remember, being shoulder to shoulder can be very disconcerting for someone who is used to more space between themselves and others.

may i sit

3. Make eye contact, but do not stare. You want to connect with the people around you, but you don’t want to make individuals uncomfortable with that laser stare. Making eye contact is also a good security measure. The eyes and the rest of the face give you an excellent first read on a person. Unfortunately, we all need to be aware of our personal safety while traveling.

4. Stay calm. If a situation begins to get tense, take a step back, breathe, and remain calm. Diffusing potential confrontations is important for you, the other individual, and the group as a whole. A corollary is to be patient – the sound of that 2-year-old having a meltdown isn’t pleasant, but think of the parents trying to calm him/her down and still enjoy the time. You will gain many karma points by helping out a struggling parent trying to juggle a toddler and an infant while opening the stroller, etc.

5. Point at things, not at people. Pointing at a painting or a building to ask about certain features is encouraged. Pointing at a person is unacceptable behavior, whether you are traveling or not. We have all seen someone pointing at a person and shaking their finger in anger while raising their voice – not behavior that reinforces goodwill.

pointing at a sign

All of these tips can be summed up in this mega tip – behave and treat other travelers the way you would like to be treated. Pretend everyone is your favorite aunt, brother, friend, teacher, clergy, or sports coach. Enjoy the interactions.

Enjoy the rest of the summer. Living in Arizona, I will also add, KEEP COOL.

Barbara Chatzkel’s ability to provide a vibrant and behavior-changing book extends Chatzkelacross industry segments – everyone uses business body language. Her coaching and consulting expertise on business body language grew from conducting union negotiations, managing difficult personnel situations, managing at multiple levels, and extensive business coaching experience. Her new book,
Business Body Language: Your Visual Business Card, will be available in print in early 2016. Visit her website today for further information.

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2 Responses to Vacation body language

  1. Good advice! I always try to follow these suggestions. I just wish this message could get out to several million other travelers who seem to be in the same airport I am whenever I travel. I especially appreciated the remark about the amount of “space” one occupies.


  2. Ginger Toivonen says:

    Sounds like a fascinating read! Certainly info that would be helpful for all of us.


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