When I talk about body language, it’s not just your posture, it’s also the non-verbal language you use like facial expressions and gestures, how you move and your eye contact with another. How you touch someone such as a handshake, or a hug. All these elements are constantly communicating unconscious messages.
You are sending out and interpreting messages to and from everyone around you. If there is a mismatch and we doubt someone, we usually believe what we read from their body language, over and above what they say. Have you ever been hugged by someone who says “it’s nice to see you” but their hug is light and insincere? Which do you believe the words, or the action?
This communication also is happening internally, your body language and gestures are communicating directly to your brain, telling it exactly how you feel.
Become aware of your body language
Notice your own body language and movements, and how they make you feel. Think about times when you aren’t feeling at your best, how you hold yourself, how you move, what are your facial gestures doing? Awareness of what you are doing is the first step in being able to change them.
Change your body language
Now try testing changing a few things and see how differently it feels.
I noticed following a very long day in the office, I was feeling slow, heavy and tired as I faced the walk to the station. I changed my posture putting my head up and shoulders back and walked with purpose, swinging my arms. My energy levels went straight up and before it knew it, I’d reached Westminster and felt great.
Try out walking with purpose and see how differently you feel. If you are slouching in a chair, sit upright with your feet on the floor. You could also try out putting a big cheesy grin on your face for 20 seconds, how does that feel?
Try on the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose. Stand upright with your feet apart and your hands on your hips and hold that pose for two minutes. It changes your hormone levels, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, resulting in increased confidence and calm. For more on this, check out Amy Cudy’s fascinating TED talk on posture and her research findings.
If you want to get a deeper understanding on just how powerful body language is, a great book is ‘Rip it Up’ by Richard Wiseman. It gives you practical tips on how to use physical actions to make changes to your health and life. What I love is, it also gives you the science behind it, so you understand why and how it works.
I use some of the stories in my Lightning Process seminars and it’s also where I discovered walking with purpose – I was testing one of the experiments in the book for myself!
“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it” William James
Contact us if you’re interested in the Lightning Process or want support to apply it.