What makes some people successful while others flop, even with the same education, background, and job position? There is no one size fits all formula, but one thing that always stands out is a person’s posture and body language. The way in which you sit, stand, and even walk, tells people so much about you, and you don’t have to utter a word.
I’m a big movie buff, so if I reference a few scenes, you will understand why. Your posture not only tells people about you, but it can make you feel more powerful and confident in your own abilities. Wouldn’t you like to know what your posture is saying to others and how you can change it?
Here are 5 ways your posture impacts your success:
1. Posture is a Nonverbal Sign of Who You Are
Remember in Titanic, when Jack is waiting to have dinner with Rose. When he’s leaning against the staircase, what does his posture say to you? Gangster? Thief? Then Jack sees the distinguished (banker?) walk by. He’s impressed with his posture and manner of walking, which he tries to emulate.
This is a perfect example of the image you are projecting to others. What do you want your image to say to others? When you are in a business setting, you should always be aware of your posture, so you don’t end up leaning on the staircase like Jack.
2. Good Posture Empowers You
Your posture and other body language makes you feel more powerful and boosts confidence. A study from Ohio State University found that those who sat up straight had more confidence in their own abilities and believed more strongly in positive statements they had written about themselves.
“A strong confident person can rule the room with knowledge, personal style, attitude and great posture.” – Cindy Ann Peterson
3. Your Posture is Vital to Your Health
Anyone who has spent time sitting in front of a computer screen will tell you that it can wreak havoc on your neck, back and shoulders. It’s true that our bodies were not designed to sit for the majority of the day, but when you add poor posture to the mix, you are asking for some serious pain.
You can only imagine what people will think if you take time off work because of back pain or neck pain. Of course, the alternative is to spend your time rubbing your neck, which won’t do much for your image or authority presence. Avoid these issues by practicing good posture!
4. Good Posture Helps You Perform Better
When your body is out of balance, that is to say, when you are hunched over that keyboard or your head is pushed forward when you are standing or walking, you can’t perform to your true potential. This is especially true if you end up with neck or back aches later on in your day because you are slouching. When you feel good, you look good, and you can perform like a champion!
5. Your Posture Affects How People See You
This should be fairly obvious to everyone. Have you ever seen a CEO slumped over their computer? Think of the movie Shawshank Redemption, when escaped prisoner Andy Dufresne sits in front of the bank executive to cash out his account. His posture screams confidence and authority in that scene. Imagine if he had been a quiet mouse, staring at his feet, with slumped over posture. Your posture can make a huge difference in how you are perceived.
“I listen better with earplugs in, so I can see what your body is really saying.” – Jarod Kintz
The Good Posture Problem
Whenever I counsel new employees, I always stress good posture and how important it is to every area of their lives. I see them sit up straight, pull back their shoulders, and sit back in their chair, only to find them slouched over their keyboard or phone a few minutes later.
Let’s face it, keeping good posture after years of neglect can seem like a lot of work and you’re right, it is. However, it only seems that way because we are unaccustomed to how it feels. We are also creatures of habit and slouching at your desk is probably a bad habit you learned many years ago. Habits were meant to be broken, friends, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Tips for Practicing Good Posture
If you want to come across as Meryl Streep does in every scene where she is walking in The Devil Wears Prada (minus the arrogant attitude, of course), you should think about your posture every day.
You can try setting an alarm on a daily basis to check your posture at work or at home. Try to be mindful of the way you’re sitting, standing and sleeping, and avoid any unnatural positions. Ask friends and family to remind you to stop slouching, too!
Also, check your workstation and make sure nothing is triggering bad posture there. Is your computer screen at eye level? Is your chair comfortable? Make sure your office equipment isn’t negatively affecting your posture.
Finally, some people have great success with a yoga or Tai Chi class, which focus on building strength and flexibility in your postural muscles. If you’re interested, you might sign up to maximize your posture. Otherwise, you can also try a home morning posture routine with different stretches.
In the end, you have the power to change your posture! As your mother might say: sit up straight!