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August 28, 2012
Confident or Uncertain? Your Posture Says It All
 
Do you look like you know where you’re going or does your posture convey uncertainty and a lack of confidence? I was at a conference last week observing individuals walking into the room. The individuals who caught my attention walked into the room as if they were saying, “I’d rather be having a root canal right now than entering this room.” Their postures conveyed uncertainty and a lack of confidence and credibility. Not only did they walk into the room hesitantly, their seated posture communicated that they were bored and lacked interest. 
 
If only we could see what others see when we enter a room, sit in a meeting or participate in a face-to-face conversation. If you want to be taken more seriously and have more impact and influence, a powerful place to begin is your standing and seated posture. 
 
To convey confidence, stand and sit in the neutral stance also known as home base.
 
Standing Neutral Posture
  • Distribute your weight evenly on both feet; position your feet forward with your legs hip width apart.
  • Relax your arms at your sides to avoid fidgeting with your rings, fingers, notes, etc., which causes distractions for your listeners. 
  • When you are done using a gesture or movement, come back to your neutral stance or home base. When you gesture constantly or fidget, your gestures lose their purpose, which is to add impact and emphasis to your words.
  • Keep your energy up and forward toward your listener.
At some point during your conversation, you need to be quiet and still. Relax your arms at your sides. When you’re fidgeting, rocking back and forth, or pacing, your mind cannot work effectively, preventing you from thinking on your feet. You’re trying to do too much at one time; as a result, you’ll lose your train of thought and won’t be as effective as you could be.
 
You also need to be quiet and still for your listener, allowing them to stay connected with you to understand your message. Otherwise, you’re creating too many distractions for your listener to focus on. As a result, it is MORE difficult to influence action.
 
Seated Neutral Posture
  • When seated, avoid slouching; sit up straight and place your feet flat on the floor.  When you slouch it’s more difficult to breathe from your diaphragm, project your voice, and add inflection.
  • Keep your gestures above the table to add emphasis to your words. When you gesture underneath the table your listeners may wonder; “What is he/she doing under there?” This is a distraction I can’t imagine you want to create.
  • Avoid fidgeting with your pen, fingers, rings, etc.
  • Be careful not to let your pen become part of your gestures.
  • When possible, avoid sitting directly across from your listener. The table, desk, or podium becomes a barrier between you and your listeners. Instead, sit next to them, creating an open position to enhance the relationship.
  • When you’re facilitating a meeting at a conference table, sit at the end of the table. This position makes it easier for you to connect with everyone and increases listener participation.
Use posture to establish credibility and confidence without speaking a word. This month, practice the neutral position whenever you’re standing, talking to coworkers in the hallway at work, or standing in line.
 
Twice a day, pay attention to your standing and seated posture. If you tend to fidget while you’re seated, you’ll continue this behavior while you’re standing. Move to the neutral position as you become aware of your old habits.
 
Ask yourself, Do I walk with purpose or do I look like I’m going to the dentist for a root canal?”

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Stacey Hanke is the founder and communication expert of Stacey Hanke Inc communication. In her book Yes You Can! she reveals practical and immediate skills and techniques to enhance verbal skills to influence others. Stacey helps individuals eliminate the static that plagues communicative delivery to persuade, sell, influence, and effectively communicate face-to-face with a clear message. Learn more about Stacey at www.staceyhankeinc.com.
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