I strongly subscribe to the idea that not only does your body language effect how others perceive you, but more importantly, your body language effects who you are in that moment. Chemically, emotionally, and so on. (If you don’t know the work of Amy Cuddy, watch her TED Talk.)
I want to give you a super-simple Applied Improv exercise to play with this idea, and see how it lands for you. I’ll take a very basic improv exercise called word-at-a-time-story, and then build on it to play with this idea that how you hold your body changes who you are.
Here’s the first step: Find someone to play with. Together you tell a story, alternating back and forth, each of you only gets one word at a time.
Get a running start with “Once – there – was – a - _______ etc.” Make sense? You tell the story one word at a time. Have fun. Don’t worry about telling a “good” story. This is more about process.
Do this a few times.
Now, stand opposite your partner, cross your arms on your chest. Lock your knees. Weight back on your heels. Focus on their top button instead of making eye contact. Keep your jaw tight.
Do the exercise like this a couple of times.
Shake that one off. Now stand in front of your partner. Weight forward on your feet. Arms relaxed and open. Jaw relaxed. Easy eye contact.
Now do the exercise a few times this way.
Try the other way again.
How did the two ways feel different?
How did you perceive your partner?
How did you perceive yourself?
How was your attitude different each way?
How easy or difficult was the “task” the two different ways?
When did you feel more engaged?
Assuming you noticed a difference, all you had to do to create that difference was change how you held your body. In this world of things that aren’t in your control, the way you hold your body is in your control.
How might this be useful? Where might it be useful? What would you like to try?