Whether you like it or not, first impressions count. Whether this applies to the way in which you perceive a business or the individuals that you meet during the course of the typical day, it is estimated that we form initial impressions of people and things within a period of just seven seconds.
If you flip this, however, it is also fair to assume that people form initial impressions of you based on a number of physical tells. Your walk can be particularly revealing to others, as body language experts believe that this offers a telling if inexact insight into your mood, outlook and standing as an individual.
With this in mind, let’s consider five things that your walk says about you and how they are likely to be perceived by others:
Let’s start with a bang, as while it is widely accepted that our walk reflects specific moods and attitudes, fewer people are aware that it can also help others to infer whether we are lying or not. According to a study conducted by American psychologists Paul Ekman and W.V. Friesen, those who are lying can be exposed by tell-tale muscle movement in the legs and feet as the human gait (which is established early in life) cannot be easily controlled.
So while liars focus solely on controlling their facial expressions as they interact, their gait and lower body movements offer an insight into their whether or not they are being truthful.
If you walk with a long, purposeful stride and an exaggerated swing of the arms, you give the immediate impression of being a high-energy individual with a positive outlook. Individuals who walk with such a gait also tend to exude confidence. They also have an extremely positive self-image and considerable belief in themselves.
Studies have also shown that those who display such a gait have an aggressive approach to tackling problems, as they face challenges head-on and with tenacity. Conversely, people with a negative outlook have a minimal arm-swing and a relatively agitated gait. They are also more likely to look down rather than upwards.
Occasionally you may come across an individual whose gait seems lethargic, and this tends to indicate low energy levels and lack of confidence to the untrained eye. Such a walk can also be indicative of feelings of inadequacy, however, unless the individual in question is unwell or has a pre-existing medical condition.
It may also embody fear, as this type of gait indicates that an individual feels insecure in themselves and anxious about what lies ahead in the future. Studies have also shown that individuals who walk with their arms folded may be showing signs of vulnerability, especially if this physical tell is combined with a shuffling gait.
On a more positive note, we have all seen (and probably admired) people who walk with an exaggerated front-foot stride, a swagger of the hips and carefree movement. This can provoke a mixed response, but it is reflective of an extroverted personality who enjoys basking in the limelight and attracting all kinds of attention.
This is particularly true in the case of males, as while the average individual likes to impress their mate by investing three months’ wages in a diamond engagement ring, extroverted men will strive to make an impression with an aggressive, macho stride. These individuals are particularly hard to miss, although they must also be prepared to encounter the wrong kind of attention on their travels.
The brisk, forceful stride is not to be confused with the exaggerated gaits mentioned previously, as power walkers tend to shift with the minimum of fuss and restricted arm movements. This is the walk of the so-called go-getter, who moves with speed and gives the impression of not wanting to waste time.
This type of walk is easily misunderstood, as it can reveal different insights when combined with additional gestures and movements. Those who power walk while refusing to make eye contact with others may be moving quickly in a bid to divert attention away from themselves, for example, while the presence of a dropped head or hunched shoulders hint at low self-esteem (or potentially a lack of status).
With these points in mind, what do you think your walk says about you? We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave us your comments below.
Featured photo credit: David via flickr.com
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