Hi everyone! Today's post is by Nick from GoBodyLanguage.com. He shares how your body language can impact your confidence, and gives some excellent tips for improving your body language. His tips will help you both feel and look more confident, so read on!
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are is the title of a recent TED talk by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, and with nearly 7 million people having viewed the talk, the world is finally becoming aware of the impact that our body language has not only on how others perceive us but how we perceive ourselves.
We have cognitive dissonance to thank for that, which describes a process wherein we hold two or more conflicting ideas about ourselves, which are in disagreement with one another. Our mind protests this disagreement, and if we hold these conflicting notions for some period of time, the mind will eventually try its best to bring each conflicting idea closer to the other.
In case the previous paragraph were a bit confusing, let me break it down more simply: if you're an unconfident person who forces him/herself to use confident body language, over time you will actually start to feel more confident as a result. Your mind will actually alter your unconfident feelings to become more in line with the confident body language you are using.
With this understanding in mind, let's cover some of the quick things you can do in the next 5 minutes to make your body language more confident. Remember that if you force yourself to consistently use this type of confident body language, over time you will actually being to feel more confident.
You should have listened when your mother told you to stand up straight. A confident and erect posture is a sign of a healthy and physically capable human being, whereas slouching posture is more often associated with a submissive person that is intentionally making themselves look smaller to avoid threatening those around them (think of a dog lowering its head to the ground when scolded).
A key concept to keep in mind when correcting your posture, and a common mistake, is that your spine doesn't stop at your shoulders. Although some people stand up with a straight back, their heads jut forward hunchback-style ruining their otherwise correct posture. To properly stand up straight, imagine a pole running vertically through the centre of your body, all the way to the top of your head.
Take up more space
When we say that a person slouches to look less threatening, this is an example of taking up less space, and therefore an example of displaying unconfident body language.
To look and feel more confident, you're going to want to take up more space with your body; this could mean spreading your arms and legs more widely apart when sitting down, utilizing a wider stance while standing (i.e. spreading your feet farther apart), or simply broadening the set of your shoulders by holding them up straight and wide rather than hunched forward, as we covered in posture.
If you don't behave this way naturally it will feel uncomfortable to do so at first, but that discomfort is only an example of the cognitive dissonance effect we're trying to achieve, so you can consider it a good thing. With time and practice taking up more space will eventually become your mind's norm, and you will eventually feel discomfort when taking up less space, which would then be an example of cognitive dissonance pulling you in a direction you don't want to go.
When taking up more space, it's important to keep in mind that we don't mean invading another person's personal space.This can come across as aggressive, and will likely make the other person uncomfortable.
Open up the body
Although we live in a world where it may be illogical to fear attack at any moment, a person not displaying confidence will subconsciously seek to protect itself from just such an attack. The vast majority of the time this means crossing one of both of the arms in front of the chest, which has the effect of protecting ourbody's most vital organs. You'll often see women crossing an arm over their body to grab the strap of a handbag that's hanging on the opposite shoulder, or either gender grabbing the opposite lower arm or wrist. To feel more confident keep the front of your body open an unobstructed.
Opening up the body can also help build rapport with a person you're interacting with, as explained in the article heart to heart body language. Because thebody is open, we are making ourselves vulnerable to the person we are interacting with, and they therefore do not feel threatened by our presence.
This has been a very quick primer in confident body language, but it's far from exhaustive. For more in-depth instruction on how to improve your body language, and how to understand and interpret the body language of those around you, check out the GoBodyLanguage course on body language!