Building confidence with positive body language

Fake it ’til you make it

You’ve probably heard about the confidence boosting power pose (for super heroes only, right?) or heard someone say they feel “down right miserable” or “keep your chin up” when you feel like curling up in a ball and hoping the world will go away. Well these physical movements in our body can have a physiological impact on how confident and positive we feel. There is much to be said for the concept of faking it until you make it, in terms of using your body language to help you feel more positive and build confidence, as well as changing the impact you can have on others. This concept has been explored in great depth by Amy Cuddy, social psychologist and Harvard professor.

Non verbal signals

As a coach I’m trained to look out for all the non-verbal signals that may or may not align with the words being spoken by my client. A touch of the hair, a look down at the floor, a cross of the legs, a sweaty palm, a raise of the eyebrow, a sigh, a change in tone, a silence, a glint in the eye, a shift in energy… just some of the many signals that tell somebody how you really feel and what you really want to say. Would you be surprised to hear that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is tone of voice and 7% is based on the actual words we use.

We’ve all experienced the interviewee whose words appear to make sense but who’s demeanour shouts out anything but “I want to be here”, or the person we’re talking to who appears to keep glancing towards the door! How does it make you feel? What judgements and assumptions are you making about them, just because of their body language?

Experiment

Here’s an idea. Next time you’re having a conversation try not to move your body and see what happens. How does this hinder your ability to communicate how you feel about the subject and what impact does it have on the person listening to you? Changing your body language physically changes the chemicals in your brain. Your posture can dilute a message or give it more gravitas. It can increase or decrease your credibility and authority. It makes you feel differently. Confidence can grow and develop just by changing the way you sit or stand. Take up more space, lift you head up, sit or stand taller. Being hunched over our phones does nothing for our posture or our confidence! I’m not suggesting we always stand like army majors, but just try experimenting with raising your eye line and see what difference it makes. Power pose in the bathroom for 2 minutes before your next presentation or important meeting and see what happens to the way you feel and the impact you have.

Keep your chin up

For those familiar with NLP, neuro linguistic programming, you will know that looking down and to the right, connects you more deeply with the emotions you are feeling. Raising your head helps to disconnect from those feelings. So, if you’re feeling nervous before an interview or anxious about an important presentation at work, “keep your chin up” and smile!!

If you have any tips or examples to share, please let me know in the comments section below. Thank you!

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