What is your posture saying about you?

I talk about posture a lot. When I give my First and Lasting Impressions training or coach on executive presence, I always emphasize the importance of standing or sitting tall. Good posture conveys confidence, whereas someone with rounded shoulders or a bent head looks insecure or unsure of themselves.

I’ve shared this story before, but it bears repeating. My husband and I usually attend the neighbor kids’ high school musicals. We always enjoy seeing the students perform, especially our neighbors.

One particular play we attended had two female leads. We were told after the performance that the one lead, we’ll call her Jane, had tried out for lead parts in the past, but missed them because her voice wasn’t quite strong enough. After taking voice lessons Jane again auditioned for the lead in this musical and got it. However, you could tell the difference in confidence between her and the other female lead, who we’ll call Debbie.

Debbie filled the room with her presence. She stood tall with her shoulders back and her head held level to the ground. Jane on the other hand slouched, tilted her head towards the floor while looking up with her eyes. She also kept one knee bent, as if trying to make herself smaller. Jane just didn’t look very comfortable as a lead.

The Sunday Seattle Times had an article on the importance of good posture, and things you can do to strengthen it. As the article mentioned, it can be challenging to have good carriage when you work at a desk all day. Our shoulders round and our heads tend to jut forward because of how we sit and where we put our monitor.

The article mentioned making sure your monitor is set so that your eyes are level with the top of it. You should be about one to two feet away from your screen. Doing this keeps your head from leaning forward and away from your shoulders. I also found it interesting that when we drive in our cars, we should keep our head against the headrest and our lower back against the back of the seat.

With two tall parents, I was always taller than other kids growing up, which made it tempting to want to slouch. It was embarrassing being a head taller than most of the kids. But my mother would often remind me, “Stand up straight Arden or you’ll look even taller by slouching.” I heeded her words and I do stand up straight, however, the years toiling behind a computer have taken their toll and I am afraid my posture is not as good as it should be.

I mentioned this to my massage therapist and she also gave me some exercises to do to strengthen the area between my shoulder blades, which helps pull your shoulders back. Rather than trying to describe them, I found this video on Youtube that has some great information on strengthening those areas that affect our posture.

I am committed to doing these and other exercises to get better posture. I want to be sure I’m communicating confidence through how I carry myself. How about you? Are there any exercises you use for better posture?


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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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