We have all heard the saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Partly true but also somewhat misleading. For instance, have you ever watched people walk? It’s fascinating really and can tell you a great deal about them as individuals. Do they shuffle, swagger, hobble, timidly place their feet forward, shoulders slumped, or move decisively ahead with purpose? The examples go on and on. One thing we know for sure is that our gait or walk is another distinctive form of body language. It can indicate introversion, extroversion, an adventurous spirit, neuroticism, warmth, approachability, feigned helplessness, and a host of other things. The truth is that your gait tells a great deal about you as a person and you don’t even have to open your mouth for an astute observer to know more about you than you might have imagined.
For instance, the pace of which you walk shows your state of mind. It brings an energy to your encounters. Is the energy positive, frenetic, negative, calm? A quiet walker doesn’t want to intrude, influencers may walk, stop and even change directions, supportive type people walk with a steadiness arms closely by their body – sort of a glide really, drivers walk with intent, cautious people walk as if they are following the rules of the road. This is my lane and that is yours they seem to be saying to themselves.
We know that females take smaller steps (other than fashion models) and have more pelvic movement. Their hips sway more naturally because of their body build and sometimes to physically attract others. On the other hand, walking with a bit of a swagger, shoulders and head up, eyes clearly focused ahead gives off a sense of physical attractiveness and confidence in males. Generally, the more confident the person – male or female – the longer the stride.
We all size up people instantly. We assume their intelligence, self-esteem, competence, as well as the organization they represent. Is it fair to do so – maybe not – but remember it happens and you always want to play to the winning hand.
Why would this be important information to know? Remember the sayings, dress for success, your shoes display your mental image of self, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, skill and qualifications are important but first impressions tell the tale, a picture is worth a thousand words, put your best foot forward … The list goes on and on but the take away is that your external image really displays your inner feelings of self and your gait is part of that image.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes image as “the character or reputation of a person as generally perceived.” The operative words, of course, is ‘generally perceived.’ This is before your first words are even spoken. Within a few minutes or seconds of meeting someone their body language and dress create an impression that is hard to overcome. Why not give yourself the competitive advantage by considering if your walk or gait together with your appearance is the message you really want to give to others. Think your skills or expertise should speak for itself? Good luck with that one.
According to research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, appearance and body language accounts for fifty-five percent of an invaluable first impression! Seems like a big percentage to me that is worth giving considerable thought to don’t you think?
Light travels faster than sound so your walk and dress visually communicates volumes before one word is exchanged. Let it be volumes of confidence, purpose and positive intention. It’s something worth considering.
Have a great few days!