How small changes in your posture can lead to big success
Implementing tiny changes in your body awareness can lead to big gains in the office, at networking events and during presentations.
We are all familiar with the phrase “Your actions speak louder than your words.” So why don’t we place more value on the power of our physical actions? As we step into 2018 with new goals and intentions, The Narrative Body wants to shed light on some small changes you can make to your posture that will serve as stepping-stones to becoming more confident in business and personal interactions.
Each Narrative Body training or coaching session will encompass physical and mental aspects of body language and nonverbal communication that will allow you to have a stronger presence in your field.
This doesn’t mean you will go into work tomorrow looking and feeling like a different person. However, implementing these small incremental changes over time can lead to a powerful transformation that will have others taking notice.
From a physical standpoint, your posture can be one of the most powerful tools in your skill set. Posture is the first indication of who you are – people can observe your posture from a distance and form opinions about you without speaking or interacting with you.
If social media has taught us something, it’s that collectively we are more engaged by visual stimuli, which enhances the need for individuals to pay closer attention to the way they are presenting themselves and communicating nonverbally. Through a greater sense of body awareness, we begin to learn about our personal nonverbal tendencies. For example: do you tend to slouch when sitting? Are you always leaning on something for support whilst standing? Do you tend to look at the ground when walking?
Since the first step to becoming a better nonverbal communicator is awareness, over the next few days, pay attention to your nonverbal tendencies. Once you identify a few areas of improvement, you can set up a game plan to slowly dismantle negative postural habits and begin to practice more intentional, positive movements and postures.
When you are mindful of your posture, your attitude towards yourself begins to shift
psychologically. According to a study conducted by Ohio State University in 2009 and published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, participants were asked to write down their best or worse qualities while seated in a chair with either proper “erect” posture or “slouched” forward, rounded posture. What the evaluators found was that practicing an “erect” posture had a significantly greater influence on those participants’ positive self-image compared to those practicing the “slouched” posture.
Both the psychological and physical implications of posture can greatly effect your work interactions and persona. Now that you are aware of this powerful fact, you can begin to make small changes to your posture and see if you begin to notice any change in your interactions. Here are a few small changes you can make that will begin to influence your inner and outer body narrative.
1. Make an Entrance
Pay attention to the way you walk into work. Our first impressions are incredibly powerful. Even if you’ve been working at the same office for years you have a fresh start every morning when you walk in the door. Be mindful of your posture, even if it’s mid – Chicago winter and you're struggling to warm your body up from the zero degree wind chill! Stand tall with the spine aligned and your shoulders drawn away from your ears. Take your headphones out and put your phone away so you are not distracted. Try to make eye contact with a few of your colleagues. Maybe even smile and say hello. This will not only make a change in the way they see you, it will also change how you feel about yourself.
2. Networking Stance
At your next networking event, be mindful of the way you are standing. Are you leaning up against something with your arms crossed or hands stuck in your pockets? These are all uninviting, closed body postures that do not make you seem approachable or confident. Other networkers will most likely avoid striking up a convo with you based on your body language alone.
Next time you're at a networking event, try to stand with tall posture and your weight balanced evenly between both legs. Keep your arms comfortably at your sides. Avoid holding plates of food or drinks with both hands; you always want to have a hand available for a gesture or handshake.
Like any new skill, finding your networking stance might take a bit of practice. I always recommend my clients practice their postures and gestures in the mirror several times before a big event. This practice tends to work out any awkwardness and without a doubt your confident stance will set you apart from the crowd.
3. Slay Your Next Presentation
During your next presentation, take some time to choreograph your gestures. This might sound like a lot of work, however you’re probably already (subconsciously) using illustrating gestures naturally. Our arms and hands act as natural extensions of the emotions we want to convey. When we look to express sympathy we tend to place a hand to our heart or when we are “thinking” we place a hand on our chin.
At The Narrative Body we are not focused on uncovering the "meaning" of movements, rather we are striving to show people how they can enhance their communication through the energy and effort of the gestures they use.
We advise our clients to pair specific gestures with action words. This way they can use the energy in their gesture to engage, awaken and motivate others. For example, if you are giving a presentation about sales growth you can use your arm as a gesture to indicate the rate and speed at which you anticipate the growth to happen. Your audience will be drawn in by your interactive approach. People tend to focus more on the story the body is telling and less on the actual content of your presentation. Knowing this, you can grab interest based on the investment and excitement in your body language and gestures.
If you would like to learn more about our group and private sessions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Briñol, P., Petty, R. E. and Wagner, B. (2009), Body posture effects on self-evaluation: A self-validation approach. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 39: 1053–1064. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.607