What’s Your Body Language Saying?

I don’t know about you but I was taught to use good manners and polite body language and I am glad.  You won’t see me sitting hunched over with my legs spread apart and elbows on my knees during a conversation with dinner guests. For a man, that displays interest and is totally acceptable. The point here is: What messages do we women convey with our politeness?

The Azalea Trail Maid: Pretty and Poised
Growing up in the South, one of the most honored and revered positions as a high school teen was to be an Azalea Trail Maidhttp://www.mobileazaleatrail.com/ If obtained, this got you the opportunity to dress in pastel hoop skirts at major events, hold a parasol and bonnet.

As an Azalea Trail Maid, you get to stand there prettily, wave with your wrist only and smile. At the tryouts, you were asked questions about body language and polite behavior. My friend Tanya said one of the trick questions, was “how do you sit on a corner stool?” The correct answer: You sit with legs close together, knee to knee, pressing tightly. Everyone who thought it was an ankle cross, got it wrong.

In other words …
Women are socialized to politely take up less room and be more passive with our body language, even our voice.  We are socialized to convey weakness, passivity, and, according to experts, this conveys less competence. Question is: Does all of this get us less respect? What’s a girl to do?

Feel more powerful: Watch Amy Cuddy’s video.

3 steps to up your presence
1) Practice more assertive body language: shoulders back, uncrossing arms, walking more assertively. Take up a bit more space when sitting.

2) Use a stronger voice when making requests.

3) Simulate the body language of someone you admire. When needing a boost of confidence, practice that body language. (I once had a client that would practice her Wonder Woman arm cross in the bathroom before she stood up to her boss — it really worked!)

No drastic changes necessary. Good self-care could include just being more conscious of the message you send to others and yourself.

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