Our body language can reveal a lot about how we view ourselves and our relationship with the world at large.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 4, 2021. It has since been updated.
We have probably heard it from our parents and from teachers to keep our shoulders straight and not slouch. The importance of our body posture is far-ranging. It reveals our state of mind and how we think of ourselves. While there are many body postures that hold a clue to our personality, our shoulders are probably the most common and obvious ones. There is so little thought that goes into it most of the time but we are unconsciously communicating so much. Since our body postures are a way to communicate non-verbally, being able to understand this language is equally important as the words we speak.
If you try to improve your posture, it doesn't just improve your appearance but creates an actual hormonal shift by changing your posture as a practice, said Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, according to Forbes. We might be non-verbally telling someone more about us than we intended to when we do this. While body language is a crucial part of work interviews, they can also unlock different aspects of interpersonal communication in any setting.
Whether you want to improve your relationship with your partner or children, friends, or anyone who is important to you, being able to tell what's on their mind by reading their body language can help you through it.
Here are three shoulder postures that can reveal interesting aspects of our personality:
When we have our shoulders pulled back, it forces the chest out and exposes the torso. Someone with this posture would have planted their feet into the ground and would be showing their dominance. They don't worry about getting attacked by anyone and are interested in showing their power, according to Changing Minds. This also shows that they are a leader and others should follow them. Not only do people use this posture to establish hierarchy but also demand respect, Joe Navarro, a veteran of the FBI, writes in PsychologyToday. He adds that shoulders can reflect respect and reverence both.
There are many benefits to holding yourself in the attention posture. You feel confident and feel a surge of testosterone and a decrease in cortisol. The shift in hormones has an impact on you as a leader and player. If you are up in testosterone and low on cortisol, you feel more assertive, confident, and comfortable. You will also be able to make hard decisions when stuck in hard spots, according to Forbes.
If you are hunching or slouching, you relay a negative image of yourself, according to Navarro, who has dealt with people who are depressed, and they always have shoulders that are falling down. Their shoulders "lacked spontaneous movement, shoulders seemingly weighed down by the weight of their malady. And while a child coming home from school may demonstrate slumped shoulders for a few minutes or hours, the clinically depressed may be like this for months or years. In time, if not corrected, it shapes how they are perceived."
When people have postures that show fear, they are also communicating to themselves that they are not powerful and less likely to succeed than others. When you believe that you can't do it, you won't be able to do what you want. The mind and body are affected by the consequences of negative thinking as well. You are likely to experience stress, anxiety and depression, weight gain and sleeplessness, according to Forbes.
If you have curved shoulders, which can happen naturally when your arms are tightly folded, you are trying to hide and reduce your size, according to Changing Minds. If this is your go-to posture, then you are always on the defensive or have a subconscious desire not to be seen. As per Forbes, women adopt this style often since they try to take up less space in public. They will tightly cross legs or ankles. This body language shows a submissive attitude and as per research by Cuddy, these people had more cortisol than testosterone.
Our bodies somewhat reflect who we are inside. So, if we are feeling down, our body language might give it away, which is why it's important to cultivate positive thoughts. When we are happy inside, it shows outside. If you're not feeling it, we can take inspiration from those who appear confident and try to implement that on ourselves. Just as our mind sends our body signals, the reverse is also true. Standing up straighter might help you feel better and confident.