The Most Important Body Language Signal For Success
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see it all the time. When people find out that I’ve been hired to speak
about body language, everyone does the same thing: they change their
posture. They hold their head higher, pull their shoulders back and
tighten their abdominal muscles.
doing so, people are transformed, instantly looking more powerful,
confident, and energized. And they remain that way . . . for about 60
seconds. That’s how long it takes most people to relax back into their
usual way of sitting or standing. And “usual” for too many of us is the
result of old injuries or current bad habits from activities like
sitting hunched over at the computer with shoulders rounded and head
pushed forward -- which over time makes it feel normal to hold our
there are numerous studies that relate good posture to health, I know
that posture is also crucial to performance and career success. Without
a state of balance in the body (which is my definition of perfect
posture) people aren’t able to reach their full potential in any
business activity – and certainly not in leadership. How many slumping
CEOs have you seen?
affects how people perceive you. Just as someone with good posture
sends nonverbal signals of energy, confidence, and health, a person
with poor body posture appears uninterested, uncertain, or insecure --
which is not the impression that any of us want to project to our
bosses, customers, and colleagues.
Posture affects confidence in our own opinions
Ohio State University study found that people who sat up straight were
more likely to believe what they wrote down concerning their
qualifications for a job. On the other hand, those who were slumped
over their desks were less likely to accept their own written-down
statements as valid.
Good posture makes us tougher.
joint study by the USC Marshall School of Business, and J.L. Rotman
School of Management at the University of Toronto, found that by simply
adopting more dominant poses (open and expansive posture), people felt
in control and were able to tolerate more physical pain and emotional
Posture matters more than hierarchical power.
from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University,
discovered that "posture expansiveness," positioning oneself in a way
that opens up the body and takes up space, activates a sense of power
that produces behavioral changes in a person independent of their
actual rank or role in an organization. In fact, it was consistently
found across three studies that posture mattered more than hierarchy in
making a person think and act in a more powerful way.
as they are, the studies quoted above (as well as the Harvard and
Columbia School of Business “Power Poses” research in which
participants increased their testosterone levels by placing their
bodies in expansive poses for two minutes) are focused on the results
of posture that is held for relatively short period of time. But what
if people could maintain proper alignment throughout the entire
workday? The only research I found on that concerns the AlignMed
Posture Shirt – a spandex top with built-in elastic bands that roll
your shoulders back and down.
I went to their website, I found validating medical research, but I was
most interested in a month-long study with 95 computer users who wore
this shirt while on the job in a call center at Colorado Springs
Utilities. It had been noted that people with poor posture at work
report low energy levels leading to lethargy and reduced productivity,
and that the greatest potential challenge to posture during this age of
technology is sitting and working at a computer. The goal of the
Colorado study was to determine the effects of wearing the Posture
Shirt on musculoskeletal health during prolonged computer use.
you might have anticipated, the garment had a favorable effect on the
physical alignment of occupational computer users. The shirts, which
were worn under normal business attire, urged shoulders to move back to
decompress nerves, improve grip strength, and increase lung function. A
beneficial bi-product of these improvements – and the result that
caught my attention -- was a reduction of fatigue and a psychological
boost in energy that resulted in greater endurance and productivity,
which was sustained throughout the four weeks.
know instinctively which nonverbal signal is the most crucial for
business success. (Our mothers were right!) When we improve our
posture, through attention, reformed habits, exercise, or by wearing a
posture-aligning shirt, we display more energy, resilience, and
confidence. In essence, we look and feel successful!
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-12-20 09:12:30 in Personal Articles