Body Language Matters?

Being in a class with the name of “Speech” you would think our first lesson would be on speaking. Nah… Our first lesson was on how our body language matters. My professor told us one number. 93. I was very confused about that until he went on to explain that 93% of what people get from what we are saying is from our body language. That leaves 7% to get our point across. 7% to impress them with what we are saying. That sounds like a terrible chance of making a good impression with bad body language. The actual numbers are 55% with what we are doing, 38% through how we are saying it, and lastly 7% with what we are actually saying.

That’s only the start of it though I was watching another TED talk in my almost nonexistent spare time and I came across, “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are” performed by Amy Cuddy. Now if I hadn’t just learned that only 7% of what I say matters because everything else is learned by my body language this might  have not caught my eye. As it so happens it’s a good thing I did learn that. In this TED talk, she speaks about multiple studies done on how your body language shapes how you feel about yourself. Looking at the research it is all related to our chemical makeup and how our body language affects it.

The study they conducted consisted of bringing some people in and telling a few to stand a specific way before being asked if they wanted to gamble.The people who stood with a “powerful” pose wanted to gamble 26% more than the people who stood in a “weak” pose. They also took saliva samples and you will never guess what they found. This hormone called “Testosterone” increased by 20% if they were standing in a strong pose, and dropped 10% if they were standing in a weak pose. This is so significant because what most people do not know is that low testosterone has been linked to depression in both males and females. Lack of self confidence leads to low testosterone. While testing the saliva they also saw that a hormone called “Cortisol” while in a “powerful” pose dropped by 25%. While people in a “weak” pose increased by 15%. This is so important because high cortIsol levels have been dIrectly related to stress and depression.

Through all of this, I found out how I stand and how I hold myself does not only affect the way I am seen but also the way I feel. I originally knew that people can get a general picture of how you feel based on body language. You can’t sit there and scowl while saying your happy and someone believe you. You can’t say you are really into something with a monotone voice, arms crossed, and a bored expression and them believe you. What I didn’t know is how our body language affected how we feel. It changes hormones and chemicals that affect us in emotional ways. I hunch my shoulders and slouch a lot. Both of these are things usually seen in a “weak” pose. I know a lot of people that do too. Is us slouching saying that we lack confidence in ourselves? Who knows. What I do know is that I have been sitting a lot straighter lately.

I find it crazy that we learn the things like this when we least expect it. I had just learned how much body language affects how others see me and all of a sudden I find out how much body language affects how I feel. Now when you are doing things step back and answer this: What does your body language say about you?