When we think of all the things that affect our lives, we typically think of the concrete. Things like where we were born, who our friends are, what we do for a living, and even where we live might come to mind.
What most people don’t realize is that everything we do, including our body language, can greatly influence our world around us. Here’s how experts say body language can influence people – and how to take advantage of that scientific knowledge.
Social scientists have spend decades looking at our body language. And what they have found is that our body language alters the way that people perceive us, how we perceive ourselves, as well as how far we go in our careers. Even emoticons used well in online negotiations have been found to impact our thoughts.
This is partly due to our natural wiring. Simply put, humans are wired to pick up on subtle quirks. To help them get a better idea of the world around them, people look to the way people are positioned. They look for powerful body language to try to gauge who is powerful. They look for people who have “vulnerable” body language to take advantage of.
And, your body language also shapes who we are on a subconscious level. We’re so deeply intertwined with our body language that the way we feel body language goes both ways. When we do certain actions, our brains register us feeling ourselves as more powerful, vulnerable, or attracted.
Meanwhile, stress hormones tend to be exerted when someone starts having stressed out body language. Things like closing yourself out, shrinking away, and cowering in fear tends to release cortisol. This is the hormone that tends to make people feel increasingly stressed. So, it’s a feedback loop.
This is why leaders often have higher testosterone and lower cortisol. Since good leadership requires a level head and a lot of dominance, it comes as no surprise that high testosterone and low cortisol is what tends to be found in high-powered people. No one wants a leader who reacts poorly to stress, so this is a natural choice.
Then there’s also the way that smiling and other happy gestures make us feel. Meanwhile, smiling and other happy gestures tend to boost testosterone and endorphins. This is why many people who tend to smile a lot tend to feel very happy. Simply put, you can really smile yourself into a good mood.
And high power body language can be addictive. The testosterone that power positioning tends to give us make us very tolerant of risk. This is why people who do dominant poses tend to be bigger risk takers – and why they tend to greatly prefer gambling when compared to people with “low power” body language.
But what if you’re really not confident? Experts say that it’s a matter of faking it until you make it in many cases. You can actually improve your social standing and professional standing using power positions and positive body language. In fact, many cases of “fake it till you make it” have actually been done so subtly that people don’t realize they’ve actually been faking body language until after they’ve succeeded.
So how do you do power poses. When sitting, keep your back straight. Smile. Spread yourself out a bit. Or, cross one leg over the other in a “4” formation, and rest your head in your hands like you’re lounging. Think of how a boss would sit, and sit that way. Eye contact is key.
If you’re feeling blue, smile. No, seriously. Smile. Or, just force yourself to grin by holding a pen in your mouth. Keep your body language open. Widen your eyes a little bit if you feel like you need to be more alert.
And,when in doubt, just make sure that you don’t hide your body behind things. People who are insecure tend to want to “crunch” up and hide themselves. They tend to close up. They also tend to cover their mouths and avoid eye contact. Don’t do this. Be a leader.
The bottom is that your body and mind are connected. And, by changing your body you can change the way you’re feeling, how you’re being seen by others, and how you handle everything that life hands you. So, how about you check out some body language guides online? They may be able to help you get better.