How body language affects you. Mental illness or not

This is a guest post by the lovely Marcus. You can find his blog over here – go check it out!

Body language is fascinating for us all, whether we realise it or not.

In fact, 55% of all our communication is carried out through body language, while only 38% through our voice quality and a mere 7% through the content of our words.

We generally pay much more attention to other people’s body language than to our own.

Anything that is not normal – a peculiar look, a louder laughter, a strange interaction, immediately catches our attention.

Not only this, but we make a lot of judgments about other people depending on their nonverbal behavior and interactions, which can later lead to different decisions. This includes can include to befriend, date, hire or even vote for someone.

Even emoticons used in online chats can have an influence on the value we give the subject of a talk or to the person we’re talking to.

If we take the bodily expression of power or dominance, everyone – including people with visual impairments will expand their body, stretching their arms, and opening up.

Conversely, when we feel powerless, threatened or vulnerable, we close up in a shell, cross arms and legs, hunch, and make ourselves smaller.

The interesting part is that we usually do the opposite of someone who is manifesting either powerful or powerless body language, so as to compliment them.

Interestingly, women tend to express powerlessness, or lack of dominance, much more than men.

But can body language be faked and why would you want to fake it?

And if so, can our ‘fake’ body language influence the way we feel and think about ourselves, and thus the way others perceive us?

Scientific studies have shown that the “power/dominance” hormone, testosterone, is elevated in successful, powerful, ”alpha” leaders, while the stress hormone, cortisol, is low.

Different experiments tested whether we can get the same hormones by changing our body language into a “powerful pose” for just two minutes. 

The results showed that the dominance hormone increased significantly in the blood while the stress hormone decreased, after just two minutes of adopting a power pose.

This means that the body language we use actually has an effect on our body chemistry and on how we feel about ourselves, making both ourselves and others have more trust in ourselves.

Can my body language change my life in a significant way?

Well, just think about difficult situations in which we usually get judged by others.

We are judged by other constantly, in meetings, with friends, while giving a speech at work, during a job interview, the list is endless.

Improving just some of those interactions in a small way may have a confounding effect on our lives.

Experiments showed that in a job interview, people who practiced the power pose for just two minutes before a stressful interview got a much higher proportion of job offers compared with people who practiced the low-power pose.

This is a great demonstration of how consciously changing your body language can have a significant impact on your life.

Our bodies can change our minds, which then changes our behaviors. This can change the results we get in important life situations.

All of this sounds superficial in a way, or maybe too easy. It almost sounds like you would be cheating, applying an artificial trick, and showing a different person than you really are.

But the truth is that a little confidence can give you the chance to show the real you in any situation, and you can get this confidence by adopting a power pose.

A small change in your posture can lead to big changes.

When you have practiced power posing repeatedly until it becomes a daily habit, it will become a part of who you are, and it will require less effort every time.

Is it really that simple?

Actually no, it’s not that simple.

In a difficult situation that you were going to face anyway, a 2-minute power pose beforehand is likely to give you a little boost that you may need in order to give yourself an edge.

But a 2-minute power pose won’t help you if you are unprepared for a situation.

If you don’t have the necessary experience or education for a job or are simply not prepared for a presentation then all the confidence in the world won’t help you to make up for your lack of skill or experience.
It’s more about giving yourself a better chance when you’re already in with a shout, rather than boosting you beyond your normal capabilities.

Today’s post has been brought to you by Marcus, who blogs at Psysci.co.

How do you try and keep your body language in check? Are you aware of your body language? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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