Your brain and body language communicate with one another constantly. And this communication is a 2-way street. One on end, your body language is reflecting the thoughts and feelings going on in your mind. But at the same time, the thoughts and feelings you have are influenced by the messages your brain gets from your body language. This means that by adopting positive body language you can actually become a more confident man. To learn how to take advantage of this psychological phenomenon, check out the tips below on the importance of body language in communication and confidence.
Smile to be happy
Studies (like this one here) have proven that simply putting a pencil lengthwise between your teeth when reading a comic strip means you’re more likely to find that comic strip funny. Why? Because the pencil forces your mouth into something close to a smile. Your brain receives the signal of the smile from your mouth, and determines that what you’re reading must be funny.
To capitalize on this this body language in communication, make a point to smile anytime you want to feel more upbeat and positive. It doesn’t matter if you’re at work, at a bar, sitting in traffic, or anywhere else. By slapping a smile across your face you’ll jumpstart the area of your brain that’s active when you’re feeling happy, and put yourself in a more positive state of mind almost immediately. And while this shift in mood may not be drastic (it’s likely not going to bump your happiness level from a 3 to a 10) it will at least have you feeling happier (and by extension more confident) than you were before.
The importance of body language isn’t limited to the messages sent from your face to your brain. Your brain is actually picking up messages from all over your body to determine how you should be feeling. So if you want to feel more positive and confident, you’ve got to send messages of confidence from the rest of your body as well.
To send those messages make sure to keep your head up, shoulders rolled down and back, and your spine straight – as if there’s a string pulling from the base of your spine up through the crown of your head. At the same time let your muscles relax and focus on taking slow breathes deep into the belly. Adopting this posture while breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles will send signals of confidence to your brain. You’ll start to feel more relaxed and self-assured as a result.
Walk with confidence
The body language communication we’ve been discussing is always in play – even when you’re walking. So anytime you walk, be sure to maintain the posture described above. For an additional boost in confidence, make your stride 6-8 inches longer than normal. And as you walk, be sure to do so with purpose and direction. Lengthening your stride and walking with purpose is going to help you feel a greater sense of power and control.
For a quick, instant boost in confidence take a minute and do the “power pose”. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and raise your hands above your head (like you just won the Superbowl). Look up, slap a big goofy grin on your face, and breathe deep into your belly. As you inhale, imagine your chest expanding and filling the room – as your hands reach up and touch the ceiling. Hold this pose for a full minute. By doing this your body language will communicate strong feelings of power and confidence to your brain in a short amount of time.
This is a great practice to do anytime you’re gearing up for a situation where you know you’ll want a strong, confident state of mind. Before a date, job interview, etc. It’s a great tool to have in your bag so take a moment and try it out right now – you’ll definitely feel a difference by the time you’re done.
Open up your body language
Another way for body language communication to send messages of confidence to your brain is from keeping your body language open. Keep your arms by your side and don’t use them to cover yourself up (avoid crossing your arms or holding a drink across your chest). Crossing your arms is a defensive posture and sends signals to your brain that there’s a need to protect yourself. Keeping your arms by your side however, tells your brain you have nothing to fear.
In addition to keeping your arms uncrossed, don’t cross your legs when standing. Instead stand with your legs apart (hip to shoulder width) and maintain a strong, solid base. Don’t be afraid to take up a bit of room and really own the space around you. Adopting this kind of body language communicates feelings of strength and power directly to your brain.
Avoid negative body language
Your brain isn’t just picking up on positive body language communication signals. It’s picking up on the negative ones, too. So if you indulge in negative, insecure body language, you’re communicating to your brain that you should be feeling negative and insecure. Negative feelings will arise and be reinforced anytime you maintain negative body language.
So don’t just embrace the confident, positive body language mentioned above, but make a point to avoid the opposite body language. If you catch yourself frowning, slumping your shoulders, shuffling your feet, or making yourself “small”, take note and immediately adopt the opposite behavior. This will help you spark more positive feelings and gradually move out of that negative state of mind.
More on building confidence
Building confidence is only one small part of body language communication. You can also learn to read the body language signs others give off, and gain special insights into their feelings. For tips on how to do this, check out this article on female body language signs of attraction.