We laugh, chat, sit, walk, and cross our legs, without realizing the information we are giving away about ourselves through these small gestures to our observers. People watching is fascinating and even more instructive than watching TV. There is so much to learn about people if you pay close attention. You can tell by the way a person walks, smiles or sits the type of people they are.
Gestures, sighs, tone of voice, and facial expressions give us plenty of feedback about how the other person is feeling and, with that, we can better understand and communicate with them. Unfortunately, the most important cues about people’s personality are lost in the digital world.
Change your body language for a better future
We misinterpret and miscommunicate a lot since we lack the vocal inflection and body language cues when we speak electronically. Many business relationships thrive through communicating digitally, as emotion is virtually removed from the conversation and it becomes “all business.” Personally, exclusively communicating electronically can be tough yet shy and insecure individuals may favor this type of communication since body language and vocal intonation would be telltale if they were to interact face to face.
When I was 15 years old, I was shy beyond belief. I sat in corners of rooms making myself small, curling my shoulders in, leaning over and crossing my arms around my waist. I probably looked like a little ball. Being picked in class to answer a question was grueling because, besides going blank and looking stupid, I stuttered and turned red as a beat in embarrassment.
I missed plenty of opportunities in life due to not showing up at interviews or events for fear of how on earth I could handle myself without coming off as impossibly insecure. Shyness and insecurity through body language can rule and ruin opportunities in life. Fortunately, as I grew older and overcame most of my shyness and insecurities, I started to stand tall, sit relaxed and no longer crossed my arms around my waist. I could easily go back to that point. However, now, when I catch myself becoming small, I change my body language! I grow, sit tall and change my posture, which in turn, changes my attitude and makes me more confident and strong in others eyes.
Shy and insecure people’s body language:
- They sit or stand hugging themselves, taking up the least space possible.
- They avoid prolonged eye contact.
- They stand close to the door at parties, ready to run for it. They either smile too much or not at all.
- They cross their legs like intertwined snakes. They twist their ankles.
- They are often hunched over.
- Their handshakes are weak.
- They walk staring down at the floor.
- They turn red easily.
- They might stutter (even if they don’t actually suffer from a stutter) when they interact with close friends and family.
How to change your body language to feel safe and confident:
- Stand tall, head up.
- Look others straight in the eye.
- When standing, avoid crossing your arms and hugging yourself, place your hands on your hips if need be.
- Sit tall and keep hands away from your body.
- Keep your back straight.
- Don’t fidget with your hair or anything else on your person.
- Walk confidently, relaxed and looking around, not at the ground or just staring straight ahead.
- When you shake someone’s hand, us both hands around theirs as a warm gesture.
- Smile honestly, not forcibly.
- Move your hands when you talk. This shows more enthusiasm. If you are Hispanic this should come naturally.
- Give a strong handshake.
Watch confident people carry themselves and mimic their body language. Remember, practice makes perfect.
Once you know what your body’s automatic response is to feeling threatened, you can start to change how you carry yourself and maintain your posture. The moment you sense you are clamming up and becoming small, go in the opposite direction. Remember that you are not doing this for other people’s benefit, but to overcome your shyness. You may feel crippled and your insecurities may have you missing prospective chances of landing a job or enjoying life fully if you don’t change.
Shyness is part of who we are and it’s not necessarily bad, but to an extreme, it can affect our chances of leading happy and rewarding lives. I’m still shy, but I am far from that little girl who wanted to curl into a ball and become invisible! Thanks to a few body language tweaks.