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The Body Language of Success: Tricks from Models

The Body Language of Success: Tricks from Models

Body language is so important. It can show how you’re really feeling about a person or a situation. A lot of times the way your body is talking says more than what you’re saying out loud. Your body language can give off vibes that others will pick up and sometimes that can help or hurt their first impression of you. Body language can make or break you: you can come across completely differently to others based on small things you do, i.e. you could come across as a nervous person by the clicking of your pen or you could be a confident role model by the way you present yourself to others.

Whatever You’re Feeling, You’ll Become

Naomi Campbell, who has been in the modeling industry for almost 30 years now, she stated this more than perfectly in a Huffington Post interview: “If you feel fear, fear will become you.” If you’re feeling scared then your body language is going to show that, other people will pick up on it and then what? They’re going to judge you. If you’re feeling confident, then people are going to pick up on that and think, “wow, I want to go talk to that person.” If there’s a way you want to convey yourself, do it through body language first. Watch people who have that sort of ardor about them. Observe friends, role models, people you meet on a train and imitate it. Stand in a mirror and try to practice the way you want to be. Watch the way you cross your legs, roll your eyes, or purse your lips, it all conveys a message of how you’re really feeling.

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Posture Is Everything

As stated, stand in front of the mirror and practice the way you want to be. Don’t slouch, sit up straight. Models don’t slouch, they lean. When you lean too much it’s slouching. Slouching shows that you’re really not committed or interested in whatever it is you’re doing. And it’s bad for your back.  Having good posture when you sit, stand, and walk shows that you’re not only confident in what you’re doing but that you know what you’re doing and you care about what you’re doing (even if you don’t). You don’t want to sit in an interview or stand around at work slouching, it shows that you don’t care about the important project that you’re working on or that you really just don’t want to be there. If a model slouched on a runway or in an interview with someone, they wouldn’t ever get a call back to do a new shoot or walk on the runway again.

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Keep Your Hands Calm

Models almost never move their hands when walking the runway or in interviews. A lot of them take this trait outside their careers as well. Being able to keep your hands calm show that you’re calm. Fiddling your thumbs, clicking a pen, tapping a table, biting your nails, and touching your hair or face a lot are nervous habits. A lot of the time we don’t realize we’re doing it, it’s just a natural reaction our bodies have when we’re nervous, feeling shy, or even angry. Keeping your hands still shows that you are confident and controlled as you go about your daily life.

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Where You Stand Is Important (Literally)

Have you ever noticed how models are spaced a certain distance from the other models on the runway or in photos? It’s important to show how close you’re willing to be and how you really feel about a situation. If you stand too far away from others then you can seem shy and really reserved. People aren’t going to want to talk to you. Taking up space is okay. I’m not saying stand in the way – I’m saying make a stance when you’re standing. It lets people know that you’re there, you’re in the room and you’re ready to be approached. Models don’t shy away and hide in corners, they make sure their presence is known by the way they stand.

Keep Your Head Up

Models aren’t known for being shy. They aren’t the girls you read about in books who hide behind an over-sized cardigan and layers of messy hair with their eyes looking at the floor. Anyone who actually does that may have difficulty getting ahead professionally. Push your hair out of your face, walk in a confident stance and make sure your head is held up. When you have your head down you look insecure, lost and shy. When you have your head up and you’re looking forward, you exert an amount of intensity that people want to be a part of.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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]

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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

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