In an earlier post (EXECUTIVE BODY LANGUAGE: DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF? PART II, April 18, 2010), we mentioned, among other things, the importance of good posture. We have all heard the expression that a person has a “military bearing,” which means he stands ramrod straight, chin up, shoulders back and chest out. The reason the military inculcates erect postures and stances are that they connote authority, discipline and confidence. Charm schools and etiquette classes also teach correct posture. You usually see models and ballerinas with good posture. The accumulated wisdom through the ages has suggested good posture is essential to creating a positive image.
A study by Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Professor Adam Galinsky and Graduate Student Assistant Li Huang now corroborates this wisdom through their research. Having an open posture of chest high and arms open projects confidence and assertiveness and results in favorable impressions. Great posture also may give tactical advantage in social intercourse and day-to-day human exchanges. The trick is not to come off as a strutting peacock, but rather as a relaxed, comfortable-in-your-own-skin person.
I do notice men and women who have ramrod straight posture, and I generally have a more favorable impression of them. Obviously, we all know habitually slouching individuals, who are also very successful. But in the real world, every bit helps, so why not give yourself an advantage that works. It is such an easy way to stand out and have presence. When my posture is good, I do indeed feel better. It is like wearing a nice suit. More often than not, I have to remind myself about good posture. I am also often reminded when I see others’ poor posture, especially my children. When I tell my kids to sit up straight, I can hear my mother’s voice.
Please feel free to weigh in with your comments. The peacock on the left in the above picture welcomes you to share your thoughts.
Copyright © 2011 by G. A. Finch, All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “EXECUTIVE BODY LANGUAGE: DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF? PART III”
Your parents did you a huge favor in emphasizing the importance of good posture. I am sure it has served you well in your business and professional life. President Obama definitely has the chin up, erect posture down pat. Whether it is studied or practiced, President Obama’s body language comes off as relaxed and confident.
So true, G.A.
An example in recent years is how President Obama presents himself. Body-language experts have pointed out that he opens his chest but not in an uncomfortable-looking way. When he speaks at a podium his hands are open, not clenched. He leans forward to engage. In doing all that, he gains control of the stage and the audience. The latest example was when he met with China’s president: http://nydn.us/ejso2F.
My posture tends to look uncomfortably straight, I’m afraid. It’s because when I was a kid, my parents threatened to have me wear a brace to keep me from slouching. A friend had to wear one and the idea of it put the fear of god in me. It stuck.