No matter how many training sessions I get to attend, there is one part of them that I find too much amusing and just impractical to listen to and practice. It’s nothing but the whole lot of hullaballoo on the need to consciously and consistently maintaining a supposedly accepted body language, which I believe is a nothing but a deceiving pretention.
The other day I was amid a training session when the instructor told me not to keep my arms folded across the chest as it indicates arrogance and bad manners. Although I was startled hearing that tad bit open reference on my posture, I must say that I didn’t have any intention to be arrogant or indecent amidst that huge crowd. I was comfortable sitting with my arms folded and was absolutely at ease. But the comment dragged me away from the easiness I had, and made me a bit extra mindful from then on. I became doubly cautious of how I sat, changed my postures often, kept head high and shoulder back enough from drooping, and tightened the abdominal muscles. These desperate efforts of mine, to be visibly clear with my body language, almost diverted my entire focus from the discussions that were going on, and my brain hardly registered any of the tips that were mentioned later, as it was already engaged in giving me the signals of alarm, whenever I shifted to the supposedly bad or unprofessional posture.
While I don’t disagree on the necessity of a strong body language, I have this slight disagreement on making it a yardstick to judge someone. Body language is an essentiality in workplaces, and I don’t intent to deny or argue on that, but have just one question to ask – If being myself makes me powerful, confident, and energized, is there a need to accept these globally recognized norms and protocols, only to temporarily duplicate myself, and later unconsciously slide back to how I am. While I may forcefully make myself go by the accepted rules, it wouldn’t actually take me long to get back to the usual way of speaking, sitting, or standing.
This makes me wonder why people are keen on judging others through postures which may not depict them correctly. While well-known trainers and corporate program instructors advocate these ‘must-follow’ steps, most of them often forget that these much-talked-about practices are subjective, varying from person to person, depending on their body make-up and even the previous injuries that might have affected the postures.
If a posture can affect how someone perceives an idea about me, I would call it a misjudgment, for varied reasons. Being someone who has been in the IT industry for 6 continuous years, sitting hunched over at a computer the entire day, I suffer from major problems with my back and shoulders, and also get severe sinusitis headaches on and off. Hence I keep shifting postures in-between, while attending meetings and conferences, which in no way means that I intent to be unprofessional, arrogant, or rude.
While I agree to the fact that body language is a crucial nonverbal sign, it should never be taken as the only benchmark to judge someone. While most of us keep trying to embrace the accepted body language norms through attention and constant practice, the energy, resilience, and confidence of being oneself is way different from forcefully making the body do things that we can never practice continually. As much as I know I can wow someone being the way I am, I am also aware that my body would speak volumes about tons of uncomfortableness, if I am forcefully made to sit, speak, or do things robotically.
The strongest body language is about being oneself and accepting what it takes to boost ones confidence, competence, and charisma, along with gaining the ability to gain a commanding presence. This is never the same for everyone. The aura of confidence that one has will remain only by being oneself.