Yes, your body is talking. But do you know what it is saying? Right now, think of something that is causing you mild angst (attending a meeting you don’t want to attend, delivering negative feedback, disagreement with a colleague, not hitting quarterly goals?). Scan your body – where is the tension? My client leaders often unknowingly hold their tension in the chest, neck, and gut/stomach, as well the back, the jaw, and overall body rigidity. Your body knows and sends signals before your head has had a chance to process!
This is your body is talking to you.
Do you listen to it? My aha moment occurred when I answered a call from a colleague/business friend who asked what I was doing Thursday. Panic. When on Thursday? Why is she asking? Oh no, what am I getting roped into here? I gave her the day’s itinerary, and she quickly seized the opportunity, “Great! You’re free in the evening, you can come to my party!” Then it happened. I noticed my chest tighten! So I politely said, “You know, I feel a tightness in my chest, and this is usually a signal that something is off, so let me check my schedule….Ahhh, I see what it is! I am booked the entire week, and Thursday is my only day to get things done, so I don’t think it is going to work for me. Have fun, and if something changes, I’ll let you know!” And that was that. Relationship still intact, as well as my Thursday night. My body literally rescued my evening!
Our bodies talk in other ways too – communication with others at meetings, during one-on-one interactions, and in various business scenarios. Matter-of-fact, the Business Insider article Body Language is Half of Business Communication states “Whether it’s a business or personal interaction, multiple studies show that as much as 50-90% of the communication is nonverbal.” 50-90%?! Your body is literally talking for you nonstop!
Seems like we could to a better job making sure our chatter-box bodies say nice things. One way is to reduce our stress! That was my rationalization anyway while on a recent business retreat to Sedona, AZ. With an afternoon to myself, after completing a fantastic hike/climb, I indulged in a weightless isolation body tank, also known as sensory-deprivation-tank, or float tank. For one hour, I was suspended in a salt-water tank, experiencing no pressure what-so-ever (literally and figuratively!), and tension I didn’t even know I had, released. Once I calmed the internal chatter, my mind suspended as well, entering a peaceful meditative state. This was an experience!
This stress-reducing relaxation technique indirectly benefits body language. But a funny finding is that studies show body language can directly help you reduce your stress! Kind of crazy. For instance, the Science of People website cites the universal I-just-won-a-race-with-hands-in-the-air-with-smiling-face-to-the-sun “pose” as a huge stress reliever!
Our bodies are complicated, transparent, and so smart. Yet time and time again, we ignore them! Bottom-line, business leaders, listen up, your body has a lot to say.