The Power of Body Language

Stop reading for a moment and notice how you are you are sitting or standing. Where are your arms? What is the expression on your face? If someone were to walk in to the room right now, what preconceptions might they make about you simply based on your body language?

If you don’t think your body has a language of its own, think again. A large percentage of communication and how people perceive you comes from body language. This includes posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Your body language might reveal your true feelings or intentions or self-confidence.
Perhaps you feel tired, angry, bored, frustrated, or enthusiastic, but some of these might not be feelings you want to communicate in a given situation.
Body language and self-confidence

Understanding and managing body language boosts your confidence in two ways.
First, by managing your body language and sending appropriate signals in specific situations, you receive positive feedback and feel assured you aren’t sabotaging your own success or the perceptions of others.

More importantly, when you practice powerful, positive body language, you’re sending messages to your brain to reinforce positive, confident feelings. Confident body language actually makes you feel more confident and appear more confident to others.

Here are 10 confident body language tips to boost your confidence:

1. Practice smiling
Smiling not only makes you more attractive and trustworthy, it also improves your health, your stress level, and your feelings about yourself. Smiling slows the heart and relaxes the body, and it releases endorphins that counteract and diminish stress hormones. It also has been shown to increase productivity while performing tasks.
According to several studies, smiling can trick your brain into feeling happy, even when you feel sad as you’re smiling.
Action steps: When you wake up in the morning, stand in front of your mirror and smile at yourself. Yes, you will feel foolish, but practice smiling to yourself for a minute or two. When you’re in your car or alone at your desk, practice smiling, be aware of the impact smiling has on other people, and remind yourself to smile more often with others.

2. Pay attention to posture
Your practice good posture when your position sitting or standing creates the least amount of strain on supporting muscles and ligaments. When you sit, your back is straight, your rear is against the back of the chair, your feet are flat on the floor, and you bend your knees at a right angle.
When standing you should be able to draw an imaginary straight line. Good posture is essential for avoiding back and neck pain, prevent muscle aches and neck pain, and keeping your bones and joints in proper alignment.

3. Boost Your Confidence Daily
Low confidence might be holding you back or infecting your relationships or work performance. Look at yourself in the mirror and make adjustments so you feel the proper alignment of your body. Wear a rubber band on your wrist or some other physical reminder to stand or sit up straight.

4. Use power poses
Standing or sitting with certain poses for as little two minutes raises
Testosterone levels and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).
These poses can impact your performance, as well as your success of work, with clients, and in your relationships. Many of the poses involve opening you body and taking up space, making you feel more confident and powerful.

5. Use engaged body language
If you want to reach an agreement, win the girl, persuade someone to your side of things, engaged body language gives you more confidence and sends powerful messages to others to win them over.
Engaged body language involves using open gestures, smiling and nodding, and mirroring the expression and movements of the other person. Once you’ve reached your goal, seal the deal by offering a firm handshake, saying “thank you”, and using good posture.

6. Remember your arms and legs
Crossing your arms suggests you feel defensive, self-protective, and closed off. Crossing your legs away from another person can suggest you dislike them or feel discomfort. Crossing your ankles can signal you’re holding something back and not expressing it (unless you’re a woman who was taught to do this as a “ladylike” position). If you clasp your hands behind your back, you might be saying you feel bored, anxious, or even angry. Hands clasped and crossed over the genitals is a self-comfort gesture that reveals vulnerability or shyness. Tapping your fingers and fidgeting tells others you are bored, impatient, or frustrated.

7. Have a strong handshake
A firm, solid handshake is a universal sign of confidence, and everyone, including women, should have one. A handshake should be strong, but not crushing, offered with a cool dry hand and a few up and down shakes, as well as a few seconds of eye contact. It is a sign of mutual respect from both parties and makes a great first impression. A sweaty limp, “dead fish” handshake has the opposite effect. Whether or not you feel confident, a firm handshake will boost your feelings and make others see you as more confident.

8. Dress for confidence
Clothes do make a difference in how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. Dressing confidently is more than wearing the trendiest fashion. It’s about feeling good, looking poised and being self-assured and having confident posture in all situations. It’s also about sending the right message to the people you are with. You can boost your confidence in yourself and your attire when you dress appropriately for the occasion, know the audience, reflect your personal style, and understand the impact of colour.

9. Stop fidgeting
Over 500 managers surveyed by a workforce solutions company, said that one-fifth of the candidates they’ve rejected for a position were fidgeters. They felt it portrayed a lack of confidence and preparation for the interview. Fidgeting, like twirling your hair, shaking your foot, or biting your nails, is an obvious sign of anxiety and nervous body language. These nervous movements draw attention away from what you are saying and distract people from your message. Avoid touching your face or neck which also indicates you feel anxious. Fidgeting sends the message loud and clear that you aren’t self-assured.

10. Practice appropriate eye contact
Eye contact suggests you’re truthful, engaging, and approachable. Confident eyes impart a sense of intimacy in your interactions and make the other person feel more positive and connected to you.
However too much eye contact can send the signal that you’re aggressive or maybe even a little strange. When eye contact goes from gazing to staring, it makes people uncomfortable and actually activates their sympathetic nervous system.
When you break eye contact, look to the side rather than down. Looking down signals lower-status, shame, and /or submission. As you get more confident with eye contact with family and friends, practice it with people at work or out in public.

[Reproduced from IPF Jan 2020]