Body Language

by Mary-Louise Angoujard


Good posture appears balanced and confident. If you ensure your back is straight and your shoulders are square, you will not only come across as confident but, thanks to the mind-body connection, you will also feel more confident.

A stance that is unbalanced (in other words, with the weight balanced on one leg more than the other) is quite common, both among men and women. This is not a closed positioning, but is a rather an un-authoritative stance. In a business situation, it also makes a person appear less sure of him or herself.


Take a good look at your posture.

In front of a mirror, stand normally – look both from the front and from the side. Then, stand up straight. It may help to imagine that a strong string is running up through your spine out the top of your head, pulling you upwards. Straighten your spine (without arching your bottom back) and roll your shoulders around a few times – front to back, back to front and around. Pay attention to your breathing – when you take a full breath, your lungs will fill up and your stomach and chest will be pushed out. Take several deep breaths, slowly. (Note: if your chest rises and your stomach contracts, you are not breathing properly!)

Next, return to your normal posture, and then go back to the straighter posture again. It’s OK if it feels strange for now. For the moment, simply notice whether you appear stronger and more confident.

Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time, or are presenting at a meeting, or asking your boss for a salary increase – how does it feel? The answer is probably ‘stronger, more confident’.

Then, imagine you do not know yourself – and you are meeting you for the first time. How does the person in the mirror come across?

Seated posture

Many of us these days spend a lot of time in front of a computer and we tend to get rounded backs and shoulders as a result, but is this what we want?

Your posture also makes an impact when you are seated: slouching in one’s chair, for example, gives the impression of being unengaged or uninterested.

Your body positioning when seated is also important: sit with your chair full-on towards the table when you need confidence and authority, and at an angle when you are seeking collaboration or to avoid confrontation (for example, in a one-on-one situation).

Once again, it’s all about mental attitude. Synergology has revealed some interesting facts about seated positioning – for example, our mental attitude will dictate whether we are sitting in a more neutral (straight) position, or slouched, or leaning back to one side or the other.

Think about what happens to rapport so many times in meetings. Imagine someone leaning over a table or their notebook, with their head down. Have you noticed how, while not exactly appearing uninterested, this signals a disconnection from the others present which comes across as both unengaged and unengaging? No wonder this tends to be a less productive communication behaviour than the alternative – looking at whoever is speaking and paying attention!