Beneficial Body Stance


Understanding body language

Body language refers to the nonverbal signals that we use to communicate. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as "the conscious and unconscious movements and postures by which attitudes and feelings are communicated." According to experts, these nonverbal signals make up a huge part of daily communication (they account for 50% to 70% of our communication). From our facial expressions to our body movements, the things we don't say can still convey volumes of information.

Think for a moment about how much a person is able to convey with just a facial expression. A smile can indicate approval or happiness, while a frown can signal disapproval or unhappiness. In some cases, our facial expressions may reveal our true feelings about a particular situation. While you may say that you are feeling fine, the look on your face may tell people otherwise.

Besides our facial expressions, body language encompasses:

  • how we position our bodies
  • our proximity to other people and how this changes
  • our eyes especially and how our eyes move and focus, etc
  • how our bodies connect with other non-bodily things (like pens, phones, glasses, clothing, etc.)
  • our breathing, and other less noticeable physical effects, for example our heartbeat and perspiration

There are a lot of studies done on body language and what each little thing may convey. Apparently it may help some people studying these signals to know how to spot a liar, reach an agreement quicker, defuse a tense situation, leave a positive last impression, etc. What I want to cover in this program, though, is how you can assume a beneficial body stance and through it to improve your confidence.

Beneficial body stance

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When I was driving to work one day I heard a great radio interview about Amy Cuddy's research and how some simple tips were going to help people become more confident and therefore have an increased potential to go ahead and achieve their dreams. Her research from Harvard Business School demonstrated that holding your body in expansive poses raises your testosterone (the hormone linked to power and self-confidence) and lowers the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The exact opposite happens when you contract yourself physically and assume postures that make you look defensive and lacking in confidence(hunched shoulders, tucking your chin down, assuming fetal position, etc). So what are these beneficial postures? Well in essence, you have to make yourself look bigger by:

  • simply widening your stance
  • stand tall with your shoulders pulled back
  • Stand with your legs apart and your hands on your hips (like Superman or Wonder Woman)
  • spread your arms to expand into space (like you're about to give someone a big hug or do a Y shape with your arms)

Examples of beneeficial body stances:


Amy Cuddy showed through her research that small changes in body language, like assuming one of these beneficial body stances lead to beneficial changes in your body chemistry. So try one of these poses and see how you feel afterwards

Watch her presentation below and discover more about her research, her personal struggles which lead to it and learn more from her advice.

Your body language shapes who you are: 21:02 min:


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