Your Body Language Shapes Your Mind

by Cathy Maday | Oct. 18, 2012

It is absolutely amazing to watch our clients transform their behaviors and achieve tremendous results by utilizing our tools in leadership communication and relationships. One of those tools is something we call Physical Intelligence. Most people only concentrate on their body language as it pertains to messages they send to others:

- How can I be more approachable to my constituents?
- Am I coming across as confident in front of the team?
- Does he know I'm nervous?

Except, there's much more to it than that. How we stand, sit and hold our body when we're going through our day has a significant impact on our interactions with others, how others assess our competence, character and intention. Most importantly, it directly contributes to our relationship with ourselves (meaning our decision making, beliefs, inner conversations and actions) AND it literally shapes our brains and chemistry! While we've been telling our clients this for many years and seeing the solid results they generate, there's now science to prove it!

"How we stand, sit and hold our body when we're going through our day
has a significant impact on our interactions with others"

Claire was a client who was completely frustrated with her inability to "sell her ideas" at work. Her manager and other upper management were not seeing how valuable her contributions were and could be. Once we began 1:1 intensive coaching for her leadership development, she also realized how unhappy and disappointed she was with her current personal life as well. I wanted to provide her with a few simple tools so that she could start improving things for herself immediately.

"Claire, the first thing you're going to do is tap into your physical intelligence. You have a habit of walking hunched and closed in, as if you're apologizing for your existence. This is not only affecting how others see you, it is affecting how you think about yourself and how you feel. You're a beautiful, caring and intelligent woman. Starting now, when you walk, your head is high, your carriage is lifted, your shoulders are back yet relaxed and your stride is purposeful. Reach your 5'10" with grace. Look people in the eye and smile. You're still warm and approachable, your nose isn't in the air like you're looking down at anyone. And when you're standing still, hands at your sides--open body. You're going to teach yourself that you really are comfortable in your own skin. Confident and calm and courageous. Your feelings will follow. And so will your choices, actions. Are you up for it?!"

"I'm so ready for this! What else can I start doing today?!"

She started with that and with our Illegal Words™ and immediately began making stronger choices. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations, she was initiating them--with confidence and warmth. She requested a promotion and after some negotiating, got it! She made some tough decisions in her personal life too. It was awesome to see her change right before my eyes. Just six months into our coaching and she said, "I really am comfortable in my own skin. I'm confident in what I bring to the table and I'm equipped to make some big things happen in our organization! I want to continue our coaching because I know I'm just beginning.

She transformed her relationship with herself. How do simple tools like body language and verbal language help a person make such a dramatic shift? Amy Cuddy, professor and researcher at Harvard has shared some scientific evidence to help us answer that question. Your body language shapes who you are. Here is one of the best TED videos I've seen:
(A note to our friends at Charlotte Works: This would be an excellent video to share with your Job Seekers!)

How might you begin to tap into the power of your physical intelligence?


About Cathy Maday

Wingspan Coaching provides motivated business leaders with tools to achieve higher levels of individual, team and business performance. Their proven coaching, training, and leadership development solutions deliver real-world strategies and practical hacks for greater profit in business and life. Founded by Cathy Maday and headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Wingspan Coaching has served entrepreneurs, large corporations and the Energy and Utility industry for nine years.


About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” succession strategist for women entrepreneurs, award-Winning author and speaker. She is Chief Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase the equity value of their firms. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty member of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog.


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