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Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

March 24th, 2014

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I was just watching Amy Cuddy's TED talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are and it got me thinking about this very important way of communicating.

bodylanguage

I have always been interested in the way people relate and communicate with others, and I always knew that body language plays a very important role in that communication, more so than we care to admit. However, I never knew that our body language could actually have an impact on the way we, ourselves feel.

Aside from our verbal exchanges, we are constantly sending out a lot of signals that can be silent or not, and involve body movements, gestures, facial expressions, voice tone, loudness, etc. they convey a lot of information about the way we feel and the way we think.

Noticing the signals that people send out with their body language is a very useful social skill. Some people can read it naturally while others may be oblivious of it. Very often the difference between the words people speak and our understanding of what they are saying comes from non-verbal communication.

Aside from being aware of other people's body language, it is very important to be aware of our own, since our body language can help us feel a certain way or achieve a certain goal. According to Amy Cuddy, we can purposely use body language to convey feelings that we are not experiencing, but we can also start to actually feel them, as she says in the video: fake it until you make it, or rather fake it until you feel it!

For instance, if you are about to be in a situation where you do not feel very confident, such as a job interview, an important meeting, giving a speech, etc. you can adopt gestures of confidence so as to convey confidence and by doing so, you may actually start to feel more confident.

You can spot a person's level of confidence by looking at the following:

Posture – standing tall with shoulders back.
Eye contact – solid with a 'smiling' face.
Gestures with hands and arms – purposeful and deliberate.
Speech – slow and clear.
Tone of voice – moderate to low.

So, by adopting those gestures and tones, you may eventually start to feel more confident, also, the more people see you as "confident" the more you will feel indeed confident, so it is like a snow ball effect, it keeps growing in you.

This principle reminded me of something my therapist told me years ago when I was depressed, I had told her that I didn't feel any motivation to do the things I used to like, so I didn't do them any more. She then told me that things could work both ways, so she encouraged me to actually do the things, despite my lack of motivation, and she told me that the motivation would come after I did them, to my surprised, it worked!

I guess we often feel we need to feel a certain way to act a certain way, but we can act first and feel later... I never really liked the expression: "Fake it until you make it" because it seemed to reflect dishonesty in my view, but I really like Cuddy's version: "Fake it until you feel it" because it definitely works!

So, next time you have an important meeting, a stressful reunion, a speech to give, etc. remember to "act" confident, using your whole body, and in time you will feel that confidence more and more!

If you want to read more about body language, below is a list of good resources.

Have a Good Week!

Related Resources:

Improving your non-verbal skills and reading body language
The key to understanding body language
How to become a master at non-verbal communication


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