I’m no body language expert, but I did listen to a phenomenal Tony Robbins Ted Talk some years ago on the importance of Motion. In it, he talks about the pattern of how you move your body and how “emotion” comes from “motion”. Put simply, “the more you move, the more you feel”, and if you don’t move daily, you’re emotionally stuck. He further goes on to say that “the quality of your life is the quality of the consistent emotions you experience” and asks the question – What do you feel consistently? I try to get out for a run five mornings a week, and I’ve previously written about the benefits I’ve derived from being the Running Recruiter. I know that when I run, I feel better afterwards as the endorphins rush through my body. I believe it’s called “runners high”, and I can’t get enough of it. On the flip side, on the days I don’t run or get out for a quick trot in the mornings, I feel sluggish, affecting my mood, which shows in my body language. I may not meet as many people daily as I once did, but I have virtual meetings every day, and my mood and body language will often betray me.
What is Body Language, and Why Is It Important?
Body language and how we move our bodies incredibly impact how we are perceived and interact. It affects how we interact with friends, family, and colleagues and can alter our moods and perceptions. However, many of us are unaware of how body language can shape our lives. In this blog, we will explore how body language can influence our mental health, adverse body language effects, positive body language benefits, and how to improve your body language.
The Effects of Negative Body Language
Body language is just as important to consider when it comes to communication as what you say verbally. Negative body language can indicate bad moods, stress, anger or nervousness and can harm those around you.
Slouching is one way in which negative body language can be manifested. Slouching indicates a lack of engagement with the conversation or environment, giving the impression of disinterest or lacking enthusiasm. Poor posture can communicate that you are unconfident or unenthusiastic and even signal low self-esteem.
Crossed arms are another form of negative body language. Crossing your arms can be seen as a defensive action, as if you are trying to protect yourself or create a barrier between you and the people around you. This can create a sense of distance and reluctance to engage, making people feel unwanted or unwelcome.
Finally, shuffling your feet while standing or sitting can indicate anxiety. Shuffling your feet suggests you are uncomfortable, which can taint the atmosphere of a conversation or situation for those around you.
The Benefits of Positive Body Language
On the other hand, positive body language can benefit both those displaying it and those around them. Smiling is one way to show positive body language, as it indicates happiness and can be contagious; if someone smiles at you, it is likely to put you in a better mood. Additionally, smiling can make you appear more friendly and approachable and make people feel you are interested in the conversation.
Making eye contact is another crucial factor of positive body language. This does not mean staring, but making brief but meaningful eye contact is essential to indicate that you are listening and paying attention. Additionally, making eye contact can be seen as a sign of respect.
An open posture, with hands visible and palms facing upwards, can give the impression of being relaxed, making those around you more comfortable. Keeping your head up and back straight is also essential, as this conveys an air of positivity and confidence.
Finally, standing tall can make you appear competent and sure of yourself, making those around you feel more at ease. It can also show a sense of pride in yourself, which those around you may sympathise with.
How Body Language Affects Mental Health
The effects of body language can extend beyond conversations and even impact our mental health. Poor body language, slouching crossed arms, and poor eye contact can be linked to low self-esteem and depression. Using these body language cues can make it difficult for yourself or others to take you seriously and negatively affect your outlook.
Body language can be an essential indicator of self-esteem and how we view ourselves. Slouching, crossing your arms, and avoiding eye contact can all be signs of self-doubt and lead to feelings of inferiority. When we perceive ourselves this way, it can be difficult to maintain positive relationships and gain any sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, if these body language cues manifest themselves, it can be challenging to break the cycle, leading to further feelings of depression and a lack of fulfilment.
Anxiety can also be impacted by body language. If a person constantly shifts, avoids eye contact, and crosses their arms, connecting with those around them can be challenging. This can lead to further anxiety because it signals insecurity and reticence, making the person feel overwhelmed and out of depth.
How to Improve Your Body Language
Improving your body language can have significant benefits. Firstly, practising good posture is essential to convey confidence. Sitting or standing with your head up, shoulders back, and chest out gives the impression of a confident and competent person. Similarly, keeping your arms uncrossed and your palms visible can make you appear more approachable and warm.
Making eye contact is crucial to showcase engaged listening and can make you appear more assured and confident. However, it is essential to remember that too much eye contact can be seen as threatening; therefore, focusing on brief but meaningful eye contact is necessary to convey attentiveness without overbearing the conversation.
Smiling more can have benefits for both yourself and those around you. Smiling lifts your mood and can make those around you feel appreciated and welcome. Additionally, a genuine smile can do wonders for your self-esteem and outlook.
Lastly, having an open and relaxed posture can make those around you feel comfortable. Having your arms by your side and never folding them across your chest is a great way to demonstrate openness and make conversation easier.
Body language is a significant factor when communicating with those around us. Negative body language can be associated with feelings of low self-worth, depression, and anxiety, whereas positive body language has the opposite effect. To ensure our body language conveys the right message, we should practice habits such as looking people in the eyes, smiling, and keeping an open posture. Improving our body language can make those around us feel welcome and more confident in ourselves and our outlook.