What is body language? The dance moves we perform in front of foreigners? The subtle hints that show you want to run away from the date in front of you? According to Professor Amy Cuddy, body language is any expression of the body which is used as a communication method. While we are normally only conscious about the messages that are sent outwards, Cuddy indicates that we should also take interest in the messages that are sent towards the senders in return. While we have always thought that our minds control our bodies, the lecturer opens up the possibility of it being the other way around.
How much attention does one pay to other peoples’ body language? Today, most human relations are based on profits for oneself. “What can I gain if I befriend this stranger?” is the common thought that passes our brains. Furthermore, with the emergence of consumerism, companies and businesses consistently approach their customers under the heavy disguise of a trustworthy companion, when really they are sneaking a peek into their wallets. In this current atmosphere of everyone trying to take advantage of everyone else, it is inevitable for people to build up a brick wall of distrust around themselves. People are on the lookout for binmal, words the speaker does not sincerely mean. During the search for any truth in our surroundings, we start to focus on the body language of people, the honest projection of what the mind is truly thinking. The words “I’m sorry,” will send different feelings, from a man who mutters the words into the floor with fidgeting hands and a man who enunciates them through an intense stare with his hands folded politely.
When we perform body language, our minds control our body to exhibit our thoughts. However, in the lecture, Professor Cuddy proves two new points: body language can be used as a tool, and the body can control the mind. Some body language expressions are the true picture of what the sender is feeling, but others can be utilized to enrich the words of the speaker. Flattering the boss is done much more successfully if the employee keeps the nose low and the eyes like an eager puppy. The Professor also shows proof that if a person deliberately conducts a posture of one’s opposite personality, then he or she will become more like that character. For example, when a normal person strikes a confident shoulder-opened posture for two minutes, their testosterone (dominance hormones) level increases by 20%, and their cortisol (stress reactive hormones) level decreased about 25%. This incredible experiment result can be used to help us with many parts of our social lives, especially for a job interview. Right here is when the Professor points out a drawback.
“So when I tell people about this, that our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes, they say to me, ‘I don’t… It feels fake. It’s not me. I don’t want to get there and then still feel like a fraud. I don’t want to feel like an impostor. I don’t want to get there only to feel like I’m not supposed to be in here.’ And that really resonated with me.”
No one likes acting pretentious, yet everyone does so because they think it is a wise decision. There is a tacit agreement amongst the members of the society that one should “sacrifice” their true colors, and put on the black and white shades that the society asks for in order to become successful in any work field. What we must understand is that they are black and white if only we see them in that sense. Why do the same people who criticize the appearance-oriented world simultaneously undergo plastic surgery? Why do the same people who despise having to put on an enthusiastically welcoming face in a business meeting accuse anyone else for not doing so? Regarding these hypocrisies, one must admit that what the society wants is eventually what we want. It is a natural instinct to want to follow the interests of the larger group. The word “fake” is negative if only we see it that way. However, it might just be an obstacle that you put in your own path yourself into becoming something you want to be. Why should we pretend to be someone we are not? It may be because we ultimately want to.
This lecture is not mere psychological research. It is the exploration of our secret desires and the extrication of the true expressions on our face behind the mask. Professor Cuddy not only offers us this lifehack that can definitely change the way we behave in our future lives, but she also recounts her own struggles back at university, which brought tears to her eyes and a standing ovation at the end of the speech.
To watch this lecture, go to www.snow.or.kr and search for “Your body language shapes who you are.” Or barcode this QRcode.
• An American social psychologist
specialized in stereotyping,
discrimination, nonverbal behavior
and so forth
• Associate Professor at
Harvard Business School
Vocabulary & Expression
1. Tacit agreement : [noun] an unspoken compromise
ex] In the tacit agreement of the husband and wife to keep their estrangement a secret, they behaved as would have ordinarily.
2. Lifehack : [noun] a procedure or action that solves a problem in everyday life.
ex] This manual will give you easy lifehacks that will help your social life.