The Art of Body Language
Did you know that communication is only 7% verbal?
Meaning that 93% of what you say is not actually about what you say, but how you say it! 90%!
When looking further at these statistics, we see that when communicating, only 7% of what you say is conveyed in words. 38% is conveyed from tone and vocal changes, and 55% is conveyed via body language, including hand gestures, facial expressions, and of course, your POSTURE.
How you present yourself in public, whether on stage of in front of a crowd, or at work with your colleagues, says more about you than what you actually say. The postural framework of your body often dictates another person’s opinion of you. If you have slouched posture, you appear timid, lazy and disorganized. When you present with symmetric, tall posture, you tell the world that you are confident, that you care about your body, and that you are worthy of positive attention.
People who have symmetrical posture are also considered to be more desirable human beings. Research demonstrates an associated between body symmetry and higher sexual prowess, physical dominance, emotional stability, and fidelity. Hey, it’s science!
Posture, then is the expression of mind and body.
How you feel inside is demonstrated by how you carry your body in space. They psychology and the physiology of your body are interrelated. Body language begins at the shoulders; the shoulders and the upper extremity are the social dimension of the body.
When we are frustrated or angry or cold, the shoulders raise and the arms cross tight against the body. This is called a closed posture or a protective posture, because we are protecting ourselves, demonstrating that no one else is welcome in our space.
Happy, joyful, and inviting postures are just the opposite. The shoulders are back and relaxed, we open our arms inviting people into our space, we open our posture for hugs, embraces, and handshakes.
Think about a track race, whether it is a 100m dash or a marathon, what does a winning posture look like? If the athlete is happy with their race, regardless of how tired they are, when they cross the finish line, they do what? Open their hands in the air!
Immediately after this open posture of celebration, you will often see the track star drop their chest and hands toward their knees in exhaustion. Their posture says it all, open posture says victory, bend forward posture says exhaustion and suffering.
The same concept is true for performers or public speakers. When they speak on stage, how their message will be received by the audience is dependent upon their postural presentation and whether they are confident in themselves or not.
If someone looks down with rounded shoulders, as an audience, we feel distrust and can see they don’t have the confidence to deliver their message. If they are leaning over the podium we see they lack the assertiveness to control the crowd. It is the presenters with open, power posture who impact the listeners. These are the presenters who leave a mark. As the saying goes, people won’t remember what you say, they will remember how you made them feel. We feel good and trust people when they are open and invite us into their space.
In the words of Tony Robbins, “the difference between failure and success is millimeters”.
Our personal body posture not only affects how others view us, but it also affects how we view ourselves.
Individuals who present with a positive, upright posture actually have a higher level of self-perceived leadership. The research has demonstrated amazing evidence that how we hold our bodies is space predicts our own level of self worth. People presenting with aligned posture are more likely to see themselves as leaders than their colleagues who present with timid posture. These studies are amazing. Clinical research demonstrates that posture affects our cognitive and emotional state.
Researchers also found that posture embodies attitude and self-evaluation. Two groups of participants in this study were asked to sit with proper posture or with slumped posture and self-evaluate their best and worst characteristics. The study concluded that people who present with an erect posture – straight spine, chest out, and shoulders back – had a more positive mentality with a confident self-image.
The ability to control our emotions with our postural presentation has been researched by experts. They have also examined what actually happens inside the body physiologically when we change our posture.
An interesting research study was done at Harvard University regarding Power Postures. When the body is in an open power pose the person not only looks more confident, but they actually are more confident.
The research shows that holding a power pose for just 2 minutes at a time increases the levels of testosterone that the body produces, and decreases levels of cortisol. What does that mean? Well, high testosterone levels are associated with power and dominance, whereas low cortisol levels are associated with decreased stress. When you change your posture, hold it for a few minutes, you have just made yourself physically more powerful! That’s incredible! As we learn to control and manage this ability, we hold within our posture great levels of potential. We can truly “posture ourselves for success.”
Let’s take this one step further. Who here has ever had to do a job interview? Who actually likes job interviews? Or are you like me where you feel completely nervous dread it while sitting in the waiting room, then can’t wait to get out when you are finished? Nonetheless, we put ourselves through them knowing the benefit that can arise from nailing an interview. And the ones we don’t nail… we chalk up as life experiences. Am I right?
We have all heard the phrase “fake it until you make it.” I’m saying, stop faking it until you make it, that theory is out the window. Fake it until you become it! If you are nervous and stressed out about a particular situation, just like the job interview, or sales presentation, prepare for that situation by preparing your posture. Posture yourself into success, once your body becomes it, your mind will too.
Proper posture doesn’t just happen overnight, though, I do need to be clear about that. You need to train your body to stay upright with symmetric alignment. Although this sounds like seemingly easy task, for the majority of you, you probably haven’t paid much attention to your posture over the course of your life. Am I right? If you are like the majority of my clients, your postural habits formed mindlessly, and through the years of repetition of doing the same activities with the same posture, you have arrived today with this postural design.
At Shyft, our system of complete postural correction consists of three critical aspects.
First is the spinal alignment, achieved by postural corrections treatments to realign the bony structure of the posture system. We tend to refer this portion out to a qualified chiropractor. The second component is postural rehabilitation, which is performed in the office and at home to correct muscular compensation patterns that have formed due to misalignments of the body system. The third component of the complete postural correction system is posture habit re-education. By re-educating our posture habits we can actually in grain the new habits into our physiology via muscle memory.
Posture habit re-education is the mindful, moment-by-moment awareness of how your body is being held up against gravity. When you become mindful of your posture, and learn how to correct your alignment during common daily activities, you learn how to control your posture, thus controlling your body language. With mindful awareness of how your body interacts with the environment around you, you can posture yourself for success.
Licensed Massage Therapist, MA #75533
350 Treemonte Dr., Orange City, FL 32763