Recently, on another hub, I came across a comment from someone who had been unemployed for a while. They were managing to get the occassional interview, but somehow failing to land a new job. Understandably, this person was becoming very dejected and despondent. It occurred to me as I read this tale of woe, that there are many people out there who do not always get the treatment and rewards that they so richly deserve, purely because their lips say one thing, and their body language says something else entirely.
The truth is, that unless we are accomplished actors, or consummate liars, or both, the chances are that every word we speak is revealing more about us than we realise. Try saying these three small words as an example:
“How are you?”
That’s right. Don’t be shy. Say them out loud.
Now ask yourself what they might have revealed about you. If you have an accent might they have given a clue as to where you come from? If you are pleased to see someone, might you put your emphasis on the middle word? Try pretending to be sad, then happy, then angry, and see how the stress on each word changes. You can see at once how we are constantly generating signals for others to receive.
The way we speak, and the way we choose our words, makes a huge difference to how people see us, and how we are treated. Presentation and body language are also important. Try saying these four words aloud:
“I am very successful!”
Did you sit up straight and look about you with your head held high? If not then try it again, with gusto.
Now try these four words:
“I am a failure!”
Makes you feel sad just to say those words. Perhaps your shoulders sagged and your head went down as you said them. It’s hard to say them chirpily. Think about how you might speak if you were delivering bad news, then contrast that with how you speak when you’re excited and pleased. The tone of our voice gives other people clues as to how they should respond, just as much, or more so, than the words we use.
Pretend you’re calling a pet dog, “Hey, Rover! Good boy! Goodboy!” The dog probably recognises few, if any, human words, but he responds to your tone. He knows he’s expected to run up, all waggy tailed and panting.
Perhaps you’re reading this thinking to yourself, well all this is obvious, and where are we going with this? Or just maybe you’re thinking, how can I use this? Well the answer is that all this is obvious when you stop to think about it, but how many people are that self-aware? Changing your posture and the tone of your voice might just change your life!
Fake it to make it
You've probably heard those words before, and wondered what they might mean for you. Well the fact is that the physical actions of our bodies and our emotional response to those actions are closely interlinked. By 'acting' more confidently, you can begin to 'feel' more confident. Try smiling at yourself in the mirror, and notice how your mood begins to lift slightly. The smile was unprovoked, and yet you still feel slightly different. Try laughing now, and see if that has the same effect!
Too many of us are very down on ourselves. We would never dream of being overly critical to our friends, yet we are all to quick to say negative things about ourselves. A good exercise to help improve self-esteem is to look in the mirror and to literally admire your reflection. "Looking good!" you might say, or "Your hair is fabulous, and your eyes are so bright today!"
Remember, it's easy to be your own worst critic, but how much better to become your own best friend!