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Is Your Body Language Hurting Your Career?

hWhen my clients come to me, they’re typically focused on how to improve their speaking skills. Learning to communicate with clarity and confidence definitely involves refining the way you speak. But often people are so focused on what it is they’re saying that they lose sight of the fact that the way they move and hold themselves can communicate just as much as their words. In fact, according to studies, up to 93% of communication is non-verbal.

One critical aspect of body language is posture. The way in which you hold yourself can speak volumes about how you perceive yourself and the value of your message. What exactly is the ideal posture? Rounded shoulders and slouching can make you appear unsure of yourself or unprofessional. On the other hand, standing too rigidly can make you appear ill at ease and tense. The goal is to achieve a posture that falls between these two extremes. To do this, start by standing straight with your shoulders held slightly back, and position your head so that your chin is level with the floor. Imagine a string running from your tailbone, through your spine, and emerging from the top of your head. Now, imagine a force from above gently tugging on that string. Maintain an even stance, and avoid shifting your weight from foot to foot. Fidgeting or leaning against an object can make you appear to be overly casual and unprofessional.

Putting conscious thought into your posture can help achieve an ideal position, but it can also feel and look unnatural. Once you’ve found your best posture, take a moment to relax while remaining in the position. Avoid muscle tension and keep your breathing even. Finding a balance between conscious effort and relaxation will help you to maintain a natural posture which projects confidence and self-assurance.

Want to learn more ways to improve your verbal and non-verbal communication skills? Check out our original workbooks, Talking Business: A guide to professional communication and Talking Business: When English is your second language.

If you have questions or are interested in improving your communication skills, give me a call at 212-308-7725 or send me an e-mail at info@corporatespeechsolutions.com. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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