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Monday, December 6, 2010

Walk this way, talk this way...

Flickr photo by Pierre Mallien

What does the way you walk say about you? Have you ever thought about it?

When I was in high school, I somehow got it in my head that I had a weird walk. haha It's funny looking back on it now, but you know how if you really hone in on something you do or don't do, suddenly you can't stop thinking about it and judging it to a ridiculous point? I felt like the way I walked was too stiff or awkward or something; I'm not even really sure why now, other than the fact that back then I assumed I was being judged on every minute detail of my being by my peers. At some point, I stopped worrying about it, though I do have different walks for different situations...more on that in a minute. But the other day, I caught my reflection as I was walking down a hallway where the opposite wall was a reflective surface, and I tried to assess how I was walking in a normal, everyday situation.

Reminds me of that episode of "Friends" where Joey and Chandler are having a conversation about how Joey walks. 
Joey: Do you think I need a new walk?
Chandler: What?
Joey: Well, I've been walking the same way since high school. You know how some people walk in a room and everybody takes notice? I think I need a "take-notice" walk!
Chandler: Are you actually saying these words?

Anyway, there have been all kinds of studies done on body language and the way you walk, and while I don't think it's all 100% accurate, I think there's definitely truth in some of it. You can even pay a coach to train you how to walk differently so that you appear more professional or confident.

I will just admit it - I tend to get super frustrated with people who walk slow. I tend to walk fast and talk fast; I like to get where I'm going, and slow people are in my way! You'd never know I was born in the South to listen to me talk or watch me walk through the mall! (You can hear how fast I talk in our first video - I don't realize how bad it is til I listen back to myself.) Some might perceive slow walkers as lazy. But maybe they are just of a different mindset that they don't need to be in such a frenzied hurry and should take time to smell the roses.  And what's so wrong with that? Nothing. And people might look at fast walkers in a negative light as well. But the point is, people do tend to get an impression of you based on the way you walk and carry yourself, whether their impression is right or wrong. Joey's right that some people carry themselves in such a way that commands more attention.

If, internally, you aren't as confident as you'd like to be, if you tweak the way you carry yourself when walking around and externally seem more confident, it could very well end up increasing your confidence level. You've probably heard people say that if you fake smile, eventually you'll feel happier, and this is the same concept. If you walk with your shoulders straight, your head up with your eyes looking around  (rather than at the ground or fixed stubbornly on your destination point and without frantically darting, which exudes insecurity), and go at a natural pace, you will appear more confident and therefore more approachable. Once it becomes second nature to you after a while, you may just find that you actually FEEL more confident and in line with the way you are presenting yourself to others. If you allow yourself to believe anything for long enough, it will become your reality. 

I always make sure to keep my shoulders straight and my head up when I walk. I think that part has always come pretty naturally to me; part of it is confidence, and part is just wanting to be very aware of my surroundings, and plus, I like to smile at people I pass because it's just something I believe in. When I don't want to be bothered, I'll consciously walk faster with my eyes fixed ahead and make a beeline. When I'm walking in the dark alone, I constantly look all around me (yet without darting) to present myself as being aware and not vulnerable. I don't know if I'll ever master the sexy walk, though! 

So just something to think about if you want to appear (and become) more confident...but don't obsess over it like I used to! ;)


Shybiker said...

You've hit on something real and important that's often hidden. Our walk says a huge amount about us and people read it that way.

When I was a teenager, to convince people I was sufficiently masculine, I consciously developed a walk that was an exaggerated male-strut. My friends noticed and, at first, made fun of me over it but later admitted they liked it. Later, I softened it but a trace of it remains even today. It's a way I can switch to being "male" in any situation requiring that.

Jenarcissist @ the closet narcissist said...

Geez, being a teenager is hard enough on its own without feeling like you have to portray yourself as something you're not! But, my friend, these days, you are much, much better off!!

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