“Do our non-verbals govern the way we feel about ourselves?” -Amy Cuddy

Communication is important! But, how often do we focus on the things we say or the words in the Hallmark cards we painstakingly sift through in the aisle at the grocery store more than the way that we carry ourselves, our body language, and our facial expressions?  I am not at all insinuating that verbal language is unimportant, or even less important, because I believe that our words hold enormous weight!  But, we have been given an entire body to supplement the words that come from our mouth and therefore, should learn to use it wisely!

In order for any relationship to work, good and positive communication must be practiced. This is true not only for romantic relationships, but also with co-workers, bosses, friends, neighbors, and family members. In fact, isn’t it interesting that we can even have a brief interaction with a stranger on the street or stuck in traffic where, without verbal language being exchanged, something is communicated. Hopefully we are on the receiving end of a friendly facial expression or a radiant smile that speaks for itself, but we have all experienced the opposite too.  No one ever thinks, “I bet my middle finger will teach them to cut me or anyone off again” before flipping the bird, or “I bet if I scream profanities at them, they’ll learn their lesson” before yelling foolishly at someone with their windows closed. But regardless of whether or not these conscious thoughts occur before our body responds, the message is communicated loud and clear. Perhaps we are the culprit of practicing these unkind behaviors at times.  These actions often seem ridiculous in hindsight, but humans can be reactive in certain situations rather than active in intentionally suppressing urges to respond to our circumstances with anger, and the expression of maladaptive body language that often accompanies it.  One of the side effects that we often forget about is that our swearing, ranting and fanatical finger flipping may have left the other person completely unaffected, while we are left feeling bitter, frustrated, and agitated.  I love the well-known saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” 

This video speaks to the power of nonverbal expression and how it not only affects those with whom we are engaging, but the great impact it has on our attitude, confidence, and self-efficacy. From Ted.com:  “Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.”

Please take 20 minutes during some down time in your day (if that’s possible) to watch this Ted talk: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” The implications of putting this research into practice will have life-altering effects.

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(click on image to view video)

In speaking about the body of Christ (the church), 1 Cor. 12:18-22 states: “…our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” Although this scripture is metaphorical for the importance of all of the gifts and skills of the members that make up the church “body”- the literal meaning is also very true. Each of our parts are important for conveying messages, both verbal and non-verbal. It is important that we are not only intentional about the words we choose when we communicate, but also that we are aware of our hands, eyebrows, facial expressions, and body stance.

Practice holistic body awareness and put this researcher’s findings to the test!