Posture & Gait

The Significance of Posture & Gait in Nonverbal Communication

What is Posture?

Posture refers to the way people hold themselves while at work, in social gatherings, or in public places.

Posture communicates a great deal of information about you. The way in which you sit, stand, slump or slouch provides information about your sex, status, self-image, attitudes and emotional state. For example, sitting with your head in your hands often indicates that your are feeling low, whereas sitting with your feet on the desk may be interpreted by others as a sign of your feeling of superiority.

A slouching body posture may indicate submissiveness or fatigue while an erect one signals dominance or an energetic state of mind. Again, while a firm handshake will give the impression of assertiveness or honesty, too firm a handshake can seem arrogant or challenging.

Body posture can be closed or open. Folding arms across your chest or body is protective and will give the impression that you are a closed, guarded, and defensive person. People with arms folded, legs crossed, and bodies turned away signal that they are rejecting messages. People, who show open hands, with both feet planted on the ground, indicate that they are accepting a message.

What is Gait?

Gait refers to the manner in which you walk. Have you ever considered how much you communicate about yourself simply by the way you walk? Whether your gait is fast or slow paced whether you take brisk or heavy steps in and out of your boss’ cabin, whether you make agile rounds in and around the workplace or heavy and slow footsteps to your cubicle, each type of gait communicates something about your state of mind at that point in time.

Your habit of walking with your head up, chin out and one palm gripping the other hand behind the back (as in the case of a policeman patrolling on his beat, or the headmaster of a local school walking through the schoolyard) conveys your comfort, confidence and complete command over a situation. However, when you walk with your head down, chin in, and both arms crossing your chest or both arms tucked inside the pockets of your trousers, the message conveyed may just be the opposite—you are uncomfortable, upset and nervous over your helplessness in the given situation!