While I have already taught you a lot about how to think and say the right things, I have not mentioned much about the way you look. I am not talking about your body shape or the clothes you wear, this is more about the language of the body you are talking to others with. Research says communication is 35% verbal communication and 65% non-verbal communication. This means 65% of what you say is not with your mouth, but with your own body language. By making simple changes to your own body posture you can feel much more confident in yourself and less defensive which will make your interpersonal effectiveness skills much better…
While many think the area of body language is for business people and politicians it can also be a useful tool in your own interpersonal effectiveness. I see this happen a lot of most of my clients. When they walk in for their first session they are slumped, shoulders down and appear instantly defensive. But over time they grow in confidence and within just a few months I see them walk in, shoulders straight, back straight and they make me smile whenever they walk into the room. In fact, some of them have grown so much as a person I get proud butterflies in my stomach whenever I see them.
By talking to someone with a bad posture you can appear bored, nervous or even fearful of them and that, in turn, will make them feel much the same about you. It’s not just your mental health that can be made better by practising good posture because your physical health can also benefit because it opens up your diaphragm and helps you to breathe easier. In fact, many people report feeling younger and more full of energy simply by practising good posture!
The military pose is the best way to practice good posture, so shoulders back, back straight, eyes front. Military personal practice this so they look confidant and non-fearful in the eyes of the enemy. The good news is you don’t have to invade any countries, you only need to appear more confidant to people. So with that in mind let’s consider this simple sentence…
“Hello, my name is Clair and I am pleased to meet you!”
If someone with a bad posture says that line to the person listening to them might hear “I’m Clair, I am already bored of you and don’t like you.” But with good posture, the person might hear “Hello, my name is Clair and I am pleased to meet you! I am friendly, confidant and someone you really want to learn more about”. Just a simple change in body language can make massive changes in the way people perceive you and indeed how they hear your words.
Before you talk to anyone (even those close to you and people you have spoken to a million times before) take a few deep breathes, put your body into an open accepting posture and open your ears before you open your mouth. By doing this you’ll find your distress tolerance is a lot better and people will be a lot more interested in what you have to say (this will also give you more confidence as a person).
This Week’s Homework: Most of you already know what this is going to be but I will tell you anyway. Yes, I do want you to practice a good posture, even if it’s just for a single conversion with someone. Try to keep your back straight, your shoulders back and keep eye contact as much as you can. Then really listen to everything someone is saying. Once the conversation is over take mental notes about how you felt, even if you felt a little silly make a mental note of that as well, but don’t judge yourself for it.