When was the last time you were misread by a colleague over a zoom conference or a “mask-to-mask” meeting? Were you mystified by a lack of response to your business presentation? Or do you feel you are “overlooked” when there is a choice for creating teams?
Have you considered the effects of posture and neutral facial expressions which unfortunately change as we age? The subtle body language we take with us to every meeting, interview and social event is a constant…but do we know what we are saying when we think we are acting casual?
Post Menopausal Women, Evaluation of Changing Norm in Body Language
After menopause women need to take a more active evaluation of their body language. Poor posture becomes exaggerated. The “neutral” face begins to look angry or negative as frown lines deepen and the eyelids start drooping. Plastic surgery might help but, in reality, if the tightening of the skin lessens one’s ability to move facial muscles, expressiveness may suffer. What can we do?
Let me share a few ideas to give you a better base.
Getting to a Better Ground Base
Correct posture while sitting or standing gives the impression of an active being ready to engage in life. While standing, balance the body gracefully on one foot or the other. As you converse, shift to the back leg while listening. If you need to make a point in the conversation, shift to the front leg and then either shift back again to listen to the response. Or, if you are trying to make a point, stay on the forward leg and simply move the back leg to your side or forward in a resting position. If you do “change your position” so to speak, your body is asserting itself.
This could be read as aggressive if your direction is a direct forward path. However, if your path has a curved diagonal feeling it will read as a graceful and persuasive suggestion to look at the other side of the coin. These same directions in space can be followed while sitting in a chair.
Unfortunately, as our facial muscles change with age, many of us give the immediate impression of being grumpy. Look in the mirror and imagine you are looking at an 18th Century portrait of a beautiful woman painted by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Find a way to lift the corners of your mouth to a suggested smile. This should be your norm. Look at your forehead and locate the third eye. See if you can open this eye into a sense of wonder. Now practice breathing and being aware of an open-heart space. Use this state of expression as your norm, something to shift away from during a conversation and a place to return to while listening.
During Covid we may have lost our active listening state in our body language. Often the video and microphone are off during meetings. Before you click on “video” to participate, be sure your position and relation to the camera are established.
As the lockdown loosens and more social interaction is possible, check that you are presenting a body language expressive of your being that says you are ready to receive and embrace. If you feel you need some help, please come to my 3-class session on Body Language to be offered May 11, 18 and 25. If you are reading this article later than these dates, please be in touch and sign up for the next session.
Remember, your physical presence is the first thing someone notices!