Body language is nonverbal language, but it communicates volumes about you nonetheless. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, Dr. Albert Mehrabian teaches that communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and 7% words. So how you carry yourself when engaged in conversation is often as important, if not more important than what you say.
“Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves.” Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy, author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
It’s easy to walk with confidence when all is well. The challenge is when we’re feeling sad, hurt, or even tired. This can lead to closing up, shoulders rounded, arms crossed- stay away and leave me alone. This is the time to put on our big girl (boy) pants and carry yourself open, receptive, arms to the side, shoulders back, head held high. Possibly even Wonder Woman’s pose with her legs solid and her hands on her hips (half kidding). When we show up with an air of confidence, it translates, “I’m confident about me, my position as an expert, and the quality of my products and services.” People will notice you. They will want to know more about you.
If you’re speaking, making a pitch, going into a job interview, entering a business conference or networking meeting, I suggest power-posing for a couple of minutes before you enter. Raise your testosterone, lower your cortisol which results in being more confident and less stressed. I even take that a step further. Every time I’m ready to take the stage I do a few jumping jacks. Gets my blood going and energy level up.
Women, even more so than men, give greater weight to facial expressions and body language than we do to words. It’s crucial for us to become self-aware not only of our posture but also of our facial expressions. Your facial expressions even affect your tone of voice.
It all begins with a smile. Decades of research prove that your mood is elevated and your stress is reduced if you smile, even for a short period of time. A smile doesn’t have to be based on real emotion – faking it works. I’d recommend going with a full, true smile that involves your eyes as well as your mouth. In addition to showing happiness, smiling in business is a strong statement of confidence and approachability.
Eye contact is the most immediate and noticeable nonverbal message. Not enough and you can seem untrustworthy and uninterested. Too much may seem inappropriate for most professional settings. Sharon Sayler, author of What Your Body Says, teaches that a series of long glances instead of intense stares are the most effective. Mixing the two is part of the fine art of building relationships.
What do posture, facial expressions, and eye contact have to do with YOUR personal brand and image? Being confident and receptive are incredibly important assets for building a solid personal brand and business reputation.
Non-verbal communication is essential to the work I do. Together with my clients, I assess their non-verbal communication. Then we problem solve and fine tune with mental and physical exercises until my clients are feeling like Wonder Woman, themselves!