I grew an inch over the last year. Truly. When my pants started inching up last spring, I got out the tape measure. And to ensure that I wasn’t just having a tall day, I’ve gotten myself up against a wall several times over the last few months, and I’m definitely holding court at 5’9”.
And I think I know why. I’m finally holding myself properly. While one would think that fourteen years of ballet would mean I had perpetually good posture, I’ve often not owned my height. Or felt fully comfortable taking up space. I’ve been a chronic sloucher. When I’d speak, I’d tip forward. But after a year of leading my Step Into Your Moxie platform, coupled with years of coaching and training leaders, business owners, and professionals on heart-centered, high impact communication, something has finally adjusted. I’m finally playing big!
Depending on the source you visit, nonverbal communication accounts for a minimum of 50 percent of one’s communication. Most sources put the percentage closer to 85 percent. And the space one takes up, horizontally and vertically, is a key component of that nonverbal communication.
People who take up space are consistently seen as more confident, trustworthy, engaging, and impactful. And yet so often we tell people, particularly young people, to stand still. I’ve worked hard not to be one of those public speaking/presentation skills coaches and trainers who glues people’s feet to the ground to get them to stop moving. And I’ve had my fair share of shufflers, so at times it’s been really tempting. To be sure, knowing how to own one’s space in a room is important. But so is unhooking one’s self from the security of a single spot and filling the room with your voice, energy, gestures, and full body.
This is something that is particularly hard for women to do. Through a complicated mix of socialization, role modeling, and self-defeating thinking, us ladies can be brilliant at physically disappearing when we talk – be it speaking publicly, negotiating, or having a difficult conversation. While men with anger fight and kill other men (and sometimes women), women with anger take it out on ourselves through nasty self-talk and food issues. (Yes men get bulimia and anorexia but not nearly in as large of numbers.)
Whether you are male, female, or gender questioning, one of the greatest ways to amplify your impact in your communication is to make a habit of taking up more space when you open your mouth. Whether you are sitting or standing, imagine that there is an invisible thread that connects straight from the ground, up to your pelvic region, and through the crown of your head up into the universe. When you are talking about what you want – for yourself and especially from others – get your hands out of your pockets, unhooked from one another, and out from behind your back. Use these beautiful tools for sharing your message to take your message (literally!) from your heart to the person or people you are communicating with. And when standing, start practicing keeping your feet hip width distance apart. Yes, no more small stances women! And allow every pore of your being to fill the space you are in.
When you allow yourself to physically grow another inch, you grow many more inches as a communicator.