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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:

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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.

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    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.

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      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.

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        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.

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        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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        Last Updated on August 6, 2020

        6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

        6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

        We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

        “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

        Are we speaking the same language?

        My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

        When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

        Am I being lazy?

        When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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        Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

        Early in the relationship:

        “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

        When the relationship is established:

        “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

        It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

        Have I actually got anything to say?

        When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

        A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

        When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

        Am I painting an accurate picture?

        One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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        How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

        Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

        What words am I using?

        It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

        Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

        Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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        Is the map really the territory?

        Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

        A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

        I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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