The Importance of Body Language

Body Language is one of the most effective mechanisms for telling what a person is projecting. For example, if you watch those around you, you can tell who is lacking in self-confidence. You can also tell who the power-players are in a room by how they command attention with their presence. There is one thing everyone has in common. We all have bodies, and we all project certain things in the way we hold ourselves. Here are a few tips that might help you present the image you want.  

Maintain an assertive posture. What is the best way to do this?    You can keep your legs aligned with your shoulders and your feet approximately four to six inches apart. Distribute your weight equally on both legs, keep your shoulders back—but not way around—and turn your body towards others.

When standing, imagine a string pulling your head up toward the sky. Picture a straight line existing from your earlobes through your shoulders, hip, and the middle of your ankles.

By doing this, you are creating what is known as an assertive posture. It projects confidence and not insecurity. You appear open to the person that you are speaking, and you can stand tall. Remember to avoid standing in a submissive position with your legs crossed, hands folded in front of you, or your weight pressed down on one hip. I have done this more times than I can count without realizing the image I projected. Instead, when you are standing, you can keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart from one another. This stance gives the appearance that you are better balanced and grounded. Remember, you may want to angle your feet outward and in the direction of that person.  

What if your job requires you to sit in a chair most of the day? You may want to practice your posture while sitting. Believe it or not, sitting up with your rear to the back of the chair while your feet are on the floor can help you prevent slouching.   

Consider using power poses.

“In Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk on body language, the social psychologist reveals that just two minutes of various power poses can significantly help make someone feel and appear more confident. In these poses, much of which involves open body positions that take up space, your body signals to the brain that you feel secure. In turn, the brain produces more testosterone and lowers your cortisol levels, also known as the stress hormone.

In the talk, Cuddy says, “our research has broad implications for people who suffer from feelings of powerlessness and low self-esteem due to their hierarchical rank or lack of resources.”

If you’re wondering how to look confident, consider practicing some of the poses Cuddy suggests before a big meeting or every day until they feel natural.” (https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/4-ways-your-body-language-can-project-confidence/)

Watch your hands.

This one is difficult for me to remember. I talk with my hands a lot, but it is important to note that people pay attention to what we do with our hands. Universally, gesturing with an open hand, palm facing up, positively affects others, communicating acceptance, openness, cooperation, and trustworthiness. Keep eye contact as much as possible. Don’t gawk at a person when you are talking to them but keep the conversation warm and inviting. If you place your hands on your hips, this can give off an air of snobbiness or impatience; crossing your arms can signal distress or be uncomfortable.  

There are many ways that you can show you are nervous. Be aware of playing with your hair or clicking pens. That kind of behavior doesn’t always work in your favor.  

Pay attention to your face.

Facial reactions speak volumes. If you have a rigid or mocking face, people will react accordingly. I interviewed years ago when the interviewer asked the same questions repeatedly, and I got agitated because it felt that she wasn’t listening. It cost me the job, and I’m grateful.  

Maintain appropriate eye contact.

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s essential. Eye contact can show if you are welcoming or aloof. It gives others a sense of how you respond to challenging situations.  

Mirror the body language of others. I don’t recommend this if the others around you appear to be depressed. If you see others who are confident and assertive, it’s okay to mirror that behavior. Please don’t be too aggressive but show that you believe in yourself. If you aren’t careful, you could become construed as condescending. I don’t think many of us want that image to be what is perceived.   

Stop fidgeting.  The more you squirm, the less confident you appear. God knows I’ve done this more times than I can count. Fidgeting and squirming are not signs of a leader, and it can seem that you aren’t comfortable with various tasks.  

These are just some of the tips I found online that will hopefully help you present the body image you want others to see. In the past, I have been ignored by job opportunities because of the body language I gave. I hope that each of you shows the world how incredible you are. Work out the jitters and put your game face on. You might be amazed at how easily you acquire better body language. Have a great weekend, everyone.  

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