The Fundamentals of a good first impression: Posture
In the early 1970’s Dr. Albert Mehrabian conducted some experiments which determined that 93% of all communication is non-verbal. There have been other studies that have challenged this number as being overblown, but none have dismissed non-verbal communication as a powerful component of human interaction.
Whether we intend to or not, we send messages to those around us by the way we hold our bodies. Sadly, the majority of us do not have good posture, and so we are fighting an uphill battle against someone’s impression of us.
How did it get this bad?
Chronically bad posture is a pretty common occurrence in modern countries. It is a phenomenon that has developed due to how much the average knowledge worker spends hunched over a keyboard and, more generally, sitting.
There has been a lot of information coming out recently that sitting is the new smoking. Personally, I think that is pretty alarmist. But sitting all day isn’t benign, either.
Just think about a standard day: you sit when you eat, sit when you commute, sit when you work and when you come home at night you sit and watch TV. That’s a lot of sitting.
All of it adds up to rounded shoulders, a head that juts forward and a spine that doesn’t look the way it should.
I’m not going to run through a list of all the pathologies that arise due to poor posture, but I would like to emphasize one thing. Your spine is the information highway of your body. All of your nerves go there and then run up to your brain. If there is a kink in that system, how well does it function?
If we want to be empowered men, then our bodies and brains must be in peak condition so that we can act efficaciously in the world.
Why is good posture important?
As I have mentioned before, humans make incredibly fast subconscious assessments of other people. No matter how much people gnash their teeth and attempt to shame us, there is no way to undo this part of human psychology without serious ‘reeducation.’ Even then, you’d probably still make those judgments but then engage in brutal self-attack to counter them.
Your posture telegraphs a message to the world around you, whether you want it to or not. Slouched shoulders make it look like you are trying to protect yourself from the world. A head that juts forward make people think that you are a dreaded close-talker. The list goes on.
Your goal with having good posture is to make the best impression possible so that your name rises high on the list of potential candidates for a job or a date because the person on the other end has a good psychological feeling about you.
How do you fix bad posture?
The first thing that needs to be done is to take an honest account of your posture. It’s best if you have a full length mirror. Just take a moment and look yourself over. What do you notice?
Most of us will have more than one thing to work on.
Here is a quick step by step guide on how to achieve better standing posture:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Plant your feet and externally rotate your knees
- Flex your butt to get your hips in alignment
- Flex your abs about 20% to bring your midline into alignment
- Shrug your shoulders up, pull them back and let them drop
- Bring your head into alignment, like there is a string connecting your head to the ceiling
This should get you into a close to ideal standing position. If you have maintained bad posture for a long time, this will be a pretty uncomfortable position as your muscles will not be used to it at all.