Advertising
Advertising

What Does Your Walk Say About You?

What Does Your Walk Say About You?

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:

Advertising

1. Your walk tells others whether you are lying or not

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.

Happy brunette in white sun dress skipping on the sand

    2. Your walk reveals whether you have a positive or negative outlook

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    3. Your walk offers an insight into feelings of fear and vulnerability

    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.

    Advertising

    1413474363278_Image_galleryImage_image001_png

      4. Your walk tells others that you may be an extrovert

      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.

      1435_bedefd6077c6597f84578f38442ecc40

        5. Your walk informs others about your status and level of self-esteem

        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.

        Advertising

        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

        More by this author

        The One Strategy To Achieve Your Goals With Minimal Effort 6 Ways To Wake Up Early Without Feeling Tired 10 Reasons A Long-Distance Relationship Will Work 12 iPhone 6 Tricks You Probably Don’t Know But Should We Are Often Confused Empathy With Sympathy but What’s The Difference Actually?

        Trending in Communication

        1 5 Real Relationship Goals You Should Actually Strive Toward 2 When You Learn A Second Language, These 7 Amazing Things Will Happen To You 3 15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Be Truly Happy 4 7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language 5 How to Apologize When You Have Made a Mistake

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on January 15, 2021

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

        The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

        Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

        Posture

        First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

        • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
        • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
        • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
        • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

        All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

        Facial Expressions

        Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

        • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
        • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
        • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

        If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

        Advertising

        1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

        A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

        The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

        This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

        2. Relax Your Face

        New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

        The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

        To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

        Advertising

        3. Improve Your Eye Contact

        Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

        The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

        To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

        3. Smile More

        There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

        Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

        4. Hand Gestures

        Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

        Advertising

        It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

        5. Enhance Your Handshake

        In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

        “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

        It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

        6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

        As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

        Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

        Advertising

        Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

        Final Takeaways

        Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

        If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

        More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

        Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next