Body language. It’s something that can captivate people or cripple you when dealing with people. Poor body language means bumbling your way through social interactions like a buffoon. And great body language starts with good body posture.
But first, what is poor posture and what should we do to fix posture?
What Does Poor Posture Do?
Poor posture can give you a host of problems. It gives you lower back pain, it will give you aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and can even give you headaches! Posture problems are even one of the top 10 reasons for visits to the doctor! This means after learning how to fix body posture issues people will save a colossal of money on doctor visits! Plus you can start standing like Superman 😉
You’ll feel better, save money and will get more opportunities in life! Not just with clients, but in general as per the halo effect:
The halo effect can also be explained as the behavior (usually unconscious) of using evaluations based on things unrelated, to make judgments about something or someone. The halo effect specifically refers to when this behavior has a positive correlation, such as viewing someone who is attractive as likely to be successful and popular. When this judgement has a negative connotation, such as someone unattractive being more readily blamed for a crime than someone attractive, it is referred to as the horn effectWikipedia
What People Think About Your Body Language
Your body language is normally a reflection of how you feel in the moment. And people pick up on this and will treat you differently depending on your body language. Meaning, if you want people to see you as an authority then you have to project a certain level of power and confidence in yourself out into the world. The way to do that is through your body language and body posture.
Try this: think of two doors, side-by-side.
Now imagine two people behind them. These two people are the exact same. They’re dressed in the same clothes, same hairstyle, same build and even same gender. Physically speaking, they’re twins.
There’s only one key difference.
Behind door number one, is a person who was just told that they have to work the entire weekend. Even though this weekend is their birthday and they had special plans. Special plans they now have to cancel. What do you think their body language is like?
Now think of the second door. Physically, this person is the exact same in appearance, however, instead of being told they have to work through the weekend, they got a promotion instead. How do you think this makes their body language look?
Is there a difference?
There is a massive difference! Especially in the energy! Imagine one person with their fists raised high and another looking down at the ground with their shoulders slumped together.
This same empowering or embarrassing energy is something that you’re giving out into the world at all times, we all are! Do you want an image of someone who seems somehow off? Or would you rather have an image of someone who looks like they’re large and in charge? You can have terrible body language and yet great posture. But you cannot have great body language with poor posture. Body posture is the foundational building block of looking powerful and even attractive.
What Great Body Posture is Not:
Contrary to popular belief, amazing body posture does not mean that you have your spine completely straight. I’ve been guilty of this mistake myself while adjusting my own body. The spine does have natural curves, and you want to maintain those natural curves.
Otherwise, you’ll start to have issues. The issues that I’ve personally noticed is that my back starts to feel exhausted. This is how I know that I’m over correcting. This is bad because it strains my back when I do it, and you’ll find the same thing happening to you. If you notice that it starts to hurt your back while keeping good body posture, then you’re over correcting. It will feel like you’re working out, and in a way, you will start to feel a ‘burning’ sensation.
This is horrible.
What is Great Body Posture?
The spine has a few natural curves in it. Rather than explain it, check out this picture:
Having great body posture should feel nearly effortless. And we’re going to go over a few secret tricks to make it empowering and effortless.
Standing Powerfully; Feet/Legs
To look as provocatively powerful as possible, try to keep your weight evenly spread out between the balls of both of your feet. Keeping them roughly shoulder width apart. Though every body is different, so experiment to find what is most comfortable to you. For comfort, you can have a slight bend in your knees. This is meant to take a little of the pressure off of your hips. When you distribute pressure throughout your body that’s less of a load that any one part has to carry. Less weight any one part has to carry means that the less chance there is of that part getting overworked and straining itself.
In short; a more comfortable body has weight and pressure distributed across as much of your body as possible. A more comfortable body is less injury-prone, which means less shoulder and neck issues, and fewer trips to the doctor!
Finally, don’t stand in a single spot forever. If you’re standing around for a lot of time (as a cashier for example, or even while talking to friends) shift your weight every once in a while because standing like this for long periods will cause your body to scream at you later. And don’t be afraid to stretch while talking to people!
Stand Like Superman; The Upper Body
If you’d like, check out the full, short post on How to Stand Like Superman. Or, watch this one-minute video clip to see what a difference posture can make and how much sexier you can become in literally seconds:
Stealing Superman’s Body Posture
- Pull your shoulders back
- While you can easily overdo this, in my experience it’s more difficult than you’d think. Most people, including myself when first getting started, do not pull their shoulders back enough
- A fun trick to steal that I got from a man named David Snyder is this:
- Pretend there is a glass plate covering your chest. And your goal is to show this to everybody that you meet because it’s going to make people like you more
- Your chest should come out at least a little bit. This will happen naturally as you pull your shoulders back
- As an experiment, try to puff your chest out but round your shoulders. You’ll find that you can’t do it without looking like a cartoon!
- Hold your head up high. No doubt that this is something that you have probably heard before
- But it’s true, hold your head high. Hold it with pride. Look out in front of you and accept the world
- Don’t ever look down at your feet, as this looks weak
- Keep your chin roughly parallel to the ground
How to Visualize Everything:
As mentioned earlier, there is the glass-plate-covering-your-heart trick. But there are a few others if that sounds weird to you:
Imagine that there is a hook in the middle of your chest. This hook pulls you up, ever so slightly. As it pulls up it will also pull your chest out a little bit. Other people like to think of a string in their head that pulls them up. That will work as well. Whichever method you choose, just make sure that you think up and out, ready to accept the world. Open to what experiences the day has to bring you.
A Hack on How to Fix Body Posture:
- Quick note: I got this exercise from Art of Manliness. The article goes more in-depth on the physical effects of great and poor posture. Make sure to check it out! It’s a fantastic read
Find a wall. Then, put your back up against the wall. The goal is to have a few certain parts of your body touching the wall. That’s how you get started on fixing body posture.
First, let’s start with the feet. You’ll want about six inches or so between your feet and the wall. Just a little bit of a distance. The reason is because it will help you focus on your body posture for your upper body. If your feet are touching the wall then you don’t get that exaggeration you need (at first) to focus on the areas you need to.
It’s like a teacher pointing out a mistake and saying do this instead. Remember that you shouldn’t actually stand with your feet out in front of you all the time because you’ll look like a fool, it’s a training tool only. A training tool to get your upper body looking more like Superman’s 😉
Now the disclaimer out of the way, back to the wall.
What you’ll need to do is make sure that your butt is touching the wall first. After that, pull your shoulder blades back until they touch the wall. Don’t dig into the wall because that’s an over-correction. After your butt and shoulder blades, next is an easy one; your head. The back of your head should touch the wall as well.
Here are pictures to make it easier to visualize:
How to Sit Like a Powerful Man
As we went over earlier, powerful body language starts with great body posture. Everything else, body language wise, flows from it. Poor posture leads to poor body language and a poor impression others have of you.
This includes while you’re sitting.
What to Do:
First, if you can, plant your feet onto the floor. If you’re unable to then try to find a solid structure to put your feet onto instead. Next, if you’re sitting in a chair you’ll want to slide your butt all the way to the end of the chair. The part that connects with the backrest. After that, you’ll want to follow the same principles as when you stand up. Try to pull your shoulder blades back, your head up and back as well as having your butt up against the backrest. The back rest can act as the ‘wall’ when we’re sitting.
Just be careful about looking down while working on a computer, because this will ruin your attempts at great body posture and cause some pain.
Another neat trick you can pull off, besides thinking about the string or the hook, is this.
First, slouch completely. Just let everything go to shit. This first step is poor posture central. Then, after a few seconds of that, bring yourself up and try to keep a totally straight spine. Bring your shoulder blades back as far as possible, try to be as straight as possible. Hold this for a few seconds and then relax a little bit. Try to let the tension release slightly.
The effect you’re going for is to exaggerate everything to absurd proportions. Creating some stress all over your body. Then, when you relax that stress you will fall somewhere in the middle of poor posture and rigid posture.
Theoretically, somewhere with great body posture. Once you have the basics down, this is a neat trick that I’ve found relaxes me into a great position. Give it a try!
Other Tips on Sitting:
Like when standing, try to distribute your weight as evenly as you can. In this case, you’re trying to keep your weight distributed on your hips. Whereas with standing you want your weight throughout your feet. In addition, always keep your knees bent at a right angle. This means that your knees will be even with, or slightly lower than your hips.
Again, it’s about weight distribution. But, this part is also about balance.
Don’t Forget to Move
Finally, try to get up and move around a little bit. You don’t want to just sit down all day. Even with great body posture it’s eventually going to start getting excruciatingly painful.
What you’ll want to do is get out in front of this. That way, you can give your body the rest and movement that it needs. Doing this before the pain sets in will help you work longer and keep better focus in the long run.
Sure, you could pound out multiple hours in the same chair. You might even get a lot of work done. But, your work will suffer because your focus will suffer and you’ll have your body screaming in pain at you the entire time. Willpower and focus are both limited resources. It takes both to work. It takes quite a bit to work for longer hours. And if you’re in pain, you’re going to take from those resources much faster than you otherwise would with just a few short breaks.
Having said that, what you should do is stand up with your legs. Do not bend over at the waist. This is one way that hard workers will end up with more lower back pain.
Will it hurt if you do it every once in a while?
Will it hurt right away when you start doing it?
But it will start fucking with you eventually because you’re stressing your body. Therefore, when you stand up from a sitting position, move to the front of the seat. After that, stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending at your waist. Then, stretch your back a little bit for a few minutes.
Get up and walk around. Go get some water, get a cup of coffee or tea. Anything, just make sure that you’re returning some blood flow to your entire body.
One great way to stretch to prevent lower back pain is to do some standing backbends.
But that’s for taking breaks, while sitting there’s another possible problem:
What If You Don’t Have a Back Rest?
Then first of all, what are you doing with your life?
I’m kidding… mostly…
Honestly though, try to sit the exact same way. And definitely do not skip your breaks. If you have a backrest that covers your entire back, like a car seat, you can get away with longer periods of sitting. Eventually it will catch up with you. But not as quickly. If you don’t have a backrest then you will start experiencing some body stress a lot faster. It will also get a lot worse much faster.
Otherwise, everything’s the same when it comes to sitting. Just do your best.
We’ve covered a lot in this guide.
But here’s a basic re-cap:
- Head up and chin parallel with the ground. You are proud of who you are and you are ready to accept the world
- Imagine a hook in your chest or a string in your head. They both pull you up. Keep your shoulder blades back to do this perfectly
- Use a wall to find where your perfect body posture is. Every body is different, so find what is best for you. Using the wall, your butt, shoulder blades and head should all rest against the wall with your feet about six inches away. That’s for your upper body
- Your feet should be roughly shoulder-width apart
- Keep your weight distributed as evenly as possible. While standing, it’s on the balls of your feet. While sitting it’s on your hips
- Take breaks. While sitting this means get up and move around a little bit, even stretch. While standing, shift your weight around and don’t be afraid to stretch out a little bit
Keep Moving Forward