Take a moment right now to notice what you look like while reading this.
Are you sitting with your shoulders hunched and neck straining down?
Or are you slugging with your arms crossed and smartphone in one hand?
You might not think much of it, but oftentimes, your body language is more important than you think it is. It serves as the first impression someone gets of you and even indirectly influences your own behavior. Here are 5 steps to improve your body language for success.
1. Practice good posture
Good posture is best seen when you’re sitting or standing with your back straight and shoulders up. This makes you appear more confident and affirms your authority in any room. Good posture also helps prevent any future spine problems since you’re taking care into not straining any of your important back muscles. If you’ve been used to hunching your shoulders all your life, standing with your back straight might seem a little unnatural at first. However, you will soon learn to adapt and have that posture become the norm for you.
2. Avoid crossing your arms
Crossed arms often indicate a more defensive, closed off or protective behaviour. This might be a good thing if you intend to set a more authoritative tone, but is not ideal for everyday interactions. Instead, use your hands to help deliver what you want to say. Incorporating hand motions and gestures into speech will ultimately enhance its content. The act of moving your hands as you speak has also been shown to help people organise their thoughts and speech patterns.
Besides making you seem more warm and approachable, smiling also helps boost your own mood. This may sound weird, but smiling (even for seemingly no reason) can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy. It’s been shown to release endorphins that help reduce stress and relax the body. This can make you feel better throughout the day and boost your own productivity. So the next time you’re feeling down, force a little smile. It’s a small effort that can make a substantial difference.
4. Look people in the eye
Eye contact is a good indication of how much confidence you have. Most people find it hard to look others in the eye when feeling shy or anxious. It would be good practice to maintain eye contact with those you’re talking to if you’re trying to make a good impression. It evokes a strong sense of confidence from your interactions and will make you seem more engaging. However, understand the difference between looking people in the eye and staring. Maintaining eye contact too intensely can make you seem a little aggressive.
5. Practice power poses
What is a power pose? Imagine what you would think someone with a lot of power would look like. How would they carry themselves? Think of the successful CEO leaning back on their chair with their feet up on a desk and arms crossed. Or the charismatic entrepreneur who stands up straight with their hands on their hips. These poses not only upgrade your appearance to other people, but to yourself as well. Studies have shown that holding these so-called power poses stimulate an increase in levels of testosterone; a hormone linked to dominance and leadership. Just holding a pose for a few minutes will help you feel more confident and powerful in any room.