How Body Language Can Impact the Impression You Make
What you say and how you say it is incredibly important. But there’s another type of language that can make or break a scenario without you even having to open your mouth. Body language is the unspoken cues we give off. They tell people if we’re feeling afraid, confident, sad, or a myriad of other emotions. They can impact the impressions we leave behind in our professional and personal lives. If you’d like to make a positive change in the silent messages you give off to others, read on for some interesting facts about body language!
Your body knows before your brain
As adults, most of us are probably pretty good at masking our feelings. We smile to be polite, keep a straight face to hide when we’re peeved, and use expressions to empathise with how others are feeling. As it turns out, it’s a little harder to mask our emotions with our body. According to experts, the body is excellent at showing emotional intent. In fact, whatever you’re feeling will show up first in your body and will take a few nanoseconds to register in your mind. So, if you’re feeling cold or hungry, your body will take a specific stance (like crossing your arms) before your brain even knows what’s going on. I guess the body knows best?
Your confidence comes across in your language
Job interviews are notoriously stressful situations. No matter how much of a veteran you are at them, they can be incredibly intimidating. So, why not make a good impression with your body language? Experts say presenting confident body movements can give the impression that you are someone who is in complete control. Sit all the way back in the chair? Use your hands when talking and keep both feet planted on the ground. (Crossing your legs gives the impression that you are trying to make yourself smaller.) Another great move is to lean forward, with your shoulders down and your chest high. This demonstrates both confidence and interest in whatever your interviewer is saying!
Your Superwoman (or Superman) helps
In this TED talk, Amy Cuddy talks about a study in which individuals were asked to spend a few minutes holding stances that invoked both confidence and lack thereof. High-power poses were shown to raise the test subjects’ testosterone levels. And when they completed the subsequent job interview, they were rated more likely to get hired. The fascinating aspect of this is that it’s about the body language or poses you take on before even entering that interview room. Two minutes in the bathroom standing in Superwoman or Superman mode can dramatically change the impact you have when you enter a high-stress situation. Not only does it make you feel more powerful, but it gives the person on the other end the impression that you have confidence.
Your transformation takes time
It’s impossible for your body language to alter overnight, but if you remember to make small tweaks here and there, these can lead to huge changes in your everyday life. Make it a habit of spending a few minutes every morning in your Super-person pose before heading to office. Remember to stand up straight and put your chest forward when walking into a room. Avoid folding your hands in your lap or crossing your legs (women tend to do this more than men). Make post-it notes and leave them on your bathroom mirror or above your computer screen to constantly remind you to stand tall, not think small!
Like spoken language, body language is simply a means of communicating how you are feeling to someone else. If you don’t know which body language has a negative impact, it can feel like you’re flailing in the dark. Some good body language probably already comes naturally to you (like making eye contact when you’re talking to someone). But others may take time to learn. As with any language, practice makes perfect. So, spend some time in front of your mirror, then go out and show them to the world!
Is there a particular pose that makes you feel powerful and confident? Do you find holding that stance for a few moments before doing something stressful helps?