Body Language and Self-Esteem
There are two main ways we communicate with other people; verbally and non-verbally. While most people know how to use their verbal communication to effectively communicate with others, sometimes the non-verbal needs a little bit more tweaking. Using these simple tips, you can easily use body language to improve your self-esteem.
According to Amy Joy Cuddy from the TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” body language can affect not only your mood, but even what hormones your body releases. It can also change how other people perceive you. Think about how wild animals show power and dominance; they do whatever they can to make themselves look bigger.
So if you have a situation coming up where you want to feel more self-confident, such as before a job interview, or before an important meeting, take a couple minutes to stand in a “power pose.” This can be done by standing up straight, pushing your shoulders back, widening your stance, holding your head up high, and placing your hands on your hips.
It sounds simple, but smiling can really go a long way. As explained in the book, “Peak Performance,” Charles Garfield noticed while coaching the Russian Olympic Weight-Lifting team, that they would grimace when reaching the point of exhaustion. In fact, most people have this automatic response. However, he found that when encouraging the athletes to smile when reaching this point, they were able to add 2-3 repetitions while training. So even when the going is tough, and you feel worn down, try smiling.
Sit up Straight
When feeling low, sad or scared, most people tend to slouch over and make themselves look smaller; the exact opposite of a power pose. From an evolutionary standpoint, this would be helpful if there were a predator nearby; they would be less noticeable if they could make themselves less visible. Unfortunately, even if you’re feeling okay, an act as simple as slouching can actually induce feelings of sadness and low energy.
Make eye contact
Making eye contact with others can make you appear more assertive and confident. It also allows you to better interpret other people’s non-verbal communication. It helps you to interpret a fake smile from a real smile and creates attraction in both yourself and the other person you’re interacting with. When there’s more attraction, whether friendly or romantic, it can help make communication flow more smoothly.
So the next time you’re feeling a little low, just remember to sit up straight, put a smile on your face, and make eye contact with others. Chances are not only will your communication improve, but you’ll also feel better about yourself.
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.