Get Your Body to Help You at Work

When I was in sixth grade, I got one of the worst whippings of my life. How bad can a kid be in sixth grade, you may wonder. Well, the private school I attended put out report cards with two sections: one for grades in each subject, and another for behavior. I did very well in the grades/subjects section. My problem was that in the behavior section, I got low marks for not sitting up straight in my chair. Apparently, educators and mothers believed that 11-year-olds do better in school when they sit ramrod straight at their desks, rather than sitting on one foot with knee bent and swinging the other foot, as I liked to do. Of course, this belief made no sense to me since my grades weren’t suffering. However, I have since learned that what we do with our bodies can affect our productivity, relationships, and success in the workplace.

It took working with a boss who wouldn’t give me the time of day for me to really understand this concept. Four frustrating years into that job, I realized that people get treated the way they ask to be treated–not asking in words, but in demeanor. I learned that when I fail to project confidence, I can expect to be second-guessed, ignored, or micromanaged. I won’t get what I need to succeed, even when I specifically ask to receive it. I learned that I needed to get my body to help me at work!

Jeff Haden, one of my favorite authors, writes about 11 body positions and gestures that can improve the way you think, feel, and act. For example, he suggests a way to increase your determination: “Oddly enough, crossing your arms will make you stick with an “unsolvable” problem a lot longer – and will make you perform better on solvable problems.” You can read all Haden’s performance-improving tips here.

Could the sixth-grade me have performed better in school if I’d “sat like a lady”? Apparently, in the eyes of my teacher, at least! Could the thirty-something me have gotten more respect if I’d conducted myself differently? Absolutely. People respond to what they see. So if you’re about to step into a position where you could use more persistence, confidence, respect, or better performance, get your body to help you at work!

What’s your ideal job? Here’s a way to help you aim for what you really want.

By Marcianne Kuethen

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