Non-verbal Communication and Posturing
In the animal kingdom, body language conveys what speech cannot express, and is almost universally understood between the species. Humans relate to one another through expressions of speech, combining vocabulary with rhythm and tone as a way of primary communication. Our body and movements have an ability to further convey a non-verbal expression that can enhance or diminish our speech, but even more than this, it can also affect how we feel!
Many experiments over the years have observed the effect of body posture on the effect of speech, and more recently, the effect on our immune system as well as our endocrine function measured by levels of testosterone in our blood. One prominent study done by Amy Cuddy in 2010 measured the effect of postural expressions of dominance and withdrawal on testosterone levels, and the findings were very interesting! When subjects were asked to assume an open stance with their chest along with their arms overhead for 2 minutes, their baseline blood testosterone levels rose. The group who were asked to sit with their arms crossed while slouching for 2 minutes were also measured pre and post positioning, and were found to have dropped their testosterone level!
Healthy testosterone levels are critical for fighting off depression, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and preventing metabolic syndrome, keeping your heart healthy and bones strong, as well as overall vitality. But brief fluctuations in men and women have the temporary effect of elevating metabolism and alertness, and even expressions of confidence and authority.
Posturing and body language is not always related to our body’s shape, but more of how we are using our body in circumstances where movement and positioning can be meaningful to our task, such as in sports or activities that require high function and alertness. For example, if you spend much time at your desk making phone calls, try standing up and smiling before you speak to the other person on the phone. You might be surprised how an elevated sense of alertness and vigor can be synchronized to the body’s position instantaneously!
How a person feels often influences how they appear and act. Try smiling for 2 minutes (even if you don’t feel like it) and see how much change you feel afterwards. The effect of posture and positioning has an effect on our physiology, and is one of the main reasons I emphasize strength and conditioning to include postural muscles that make a difference in your body stature and endurance, no matter what your body shape is.
Try smiling today, greet one another with kindness, and stand up frequently. Your inner emotion will thank you!