Your body language doesn’t merely reflect your emotions, it’s often the cause. Stress and anxiety can make you slouch, frown and cross your arms defensively. By learning some of the principal ways that your own posture, gestures, facial expression and even tone of voice affect your mind, you will be more aware of the factors influencing your mood, and give yourself an edge in presentations and negotiations.
Check out these few pointers, which may help you act “as if” you are in control:
Know the “Power Posture”
Studies show that by opening up your body and filling more space – known as a “power posture” – you offer a range of confidence-boosting effects. For instance, try clenching your hands behind your head and putting your feet up on the desk; or, a subtler example, standing feet astride with hands on hips. Basically, the more space you take up, the more “powerful” the posture. The next time you’re faced with an interview or public presentation, don’t pace nervously. Instead, try spending a few minutes beforehand standing or sitting in a power pose.
Avoid handheld devices
The computer’s size can change your posture, and thus, your behavior. In research published this year, Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy found that people were more likely to be assertive after spending time in a more open posture using a laptop or desktop computer compared with in a constricted posture using a tablet or a phone-sized device. Meaning, the size of your preferred device matters, and it can have unintended effects on your mood and confidence.
Be mindful of your facial expression
It’s not just the position of our bodies that can affect our emotions, the expression on our faces can too. For instance, for some people, spending time deliberately smiling can help them to feel more positive and increase the accessibility of positive memories.
Gesture when you speak
Research shows that hand gesticulations actually assist our mental processes. A study published last year found that people were better able to explain math problems and simultaneously remember a string of letters if they were allowed to gesture meaningfully as they spoke. So gesturing while you speak won’t only aid your thought processes, it likely will also help you make a good impression. Like tone, volume, and pacing of your speech, gestures are another tool to punctuate what you’re saying.