Monday, October 24, 2011

What Does Your Body Language Say About You?

    If you were asked to describe yourself, would you consider body language?   In most cases the answer would likely be, no.  Yet, we go through our entire lives being judged or judging other people on their body language.  The question was presented to an audience of women at a workshop conducted by radio personality, P. Ann Price from Cincinnati.  The question stirred up some thoughts within about how I have been perceived by others as well as how I may perceive people based on body language.

     As I explained to a colleague during the workshop, I naturally walk with my head upward and growing up, people often labeled me as stuck up.  Because it is a natural function of my body, I rarely if ever notice it until someone points it out.  From one perspective, walking with your head high eludes confidence, but there is another side to the story. I have a tendency to trip over cracks when walking on the sidewalk and people have also labeled me clumsy.  Therefore, my body language would indicate that I am stuck up and clumsy.  Neither is true.  My colleague said that she has a tendency to walk with her head down.  I do not perceive her as lacking confidence and she probably does not trip as much as I do.  However, people often associate walking with your head down as lacking confidence.  There is no evidence to support any of these assumptions.

     I have a teenage family member who sometimes stands with her shoulders hunched over.  I absolutely dislike this stance because I perceive it to be associated with a low self-esteem.  When photographing her dressed for homecoming, I noticed her shoulders slouched and before taking another picture, I instructed her to straighten her shoulders.  When viewing the two photographs, there was a distinct difference between the straight and the slouched shoulder photos.  Her beauty was more prominent in the photo where she stood with shoulders straight.  Does her self-esteem change because of her shoulders or is that how I perceived her body language based on my own assumption?

     My daughter once complained about going to an event where the men tended to stand around and ignore most of the women with the exception of the one’s they apparently knew.  This event was one of the only social activities going on for young adults in the city where we lived at the time.  I suggested she change her attitude and walk with ownership when she entered the event.  My exact words were “walk in the room like it’s a penthouse and you own it.”  She came home that evening excited about the results she received from following those simple body language instructions.  Was she a different person? No, but her body language and attitude caught the attention of a few gentlemen and she expressed she had a good time dancing and communicating.  Because of her change in attitude and posture, I perceived her as having gained confidence.

     Another misunderstood body language is facial expression.  For instance, as women age, they tend to frown more than smile?  I was at a beauty salon last year sitting under the dryer when I noticed two mature women reading.  They both appeared to have frowns and my first thought was whether they were happy or not.  When they peered up from the books and started talking, the frowns disappeared.  In retrospect, as we age, our skin loses its elasticity particularly around the eyes and mouth area.  Sometimes when we face downward, our skin may appear to sag.  What I perceived as unhappy was a natural function of the body.  Therefore, our body language can say things about us that are misunderstood.

     In the workshop, P.Ann asked several women to walk across the stage and the audience had to guess about their sex life based on the way they walked.  The categories were, “Off the Chain, You Don’t Want to Know and Just Okay.” Over sixty percent of the time, the audience was incorrect.  It is easy to place judgment on people by their visible language and actions because those are the things we see and perceive we understand.  In reality, what we don’t visually see in people is more of who they are as opposed to what they are.  Sometimes we should go beyond the surface and beneath the skin to really get to know a person?  I truly believe we will be quite surprised at how we can misjudge people based on our own perceptions. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to Attract a Date

Date yourself! Yes, the first step to attracting a date is to realistically look in the mirror and consider if you were on the other side, would you date that person.

The second step is to identity five things that make you fun, interesting and appealing and write them down. If you have problems writing down five action words, you should already know you need help. The next step is to turn the paper over and write down five things you believe may hinder you from potentially attracting dates. The items on the back side of the paper are what we want to work on.

While I have no idea what you wrote on your paper, I am going to assume that I will cover at least some of the items in the content that follows. At this point, I am implementing a disclaimer to inform you that I do not have all the answers. The knowledge that I am going to share is based on my experiences and research. I also want to make clear that this writing is about dating only. We need to practice getting past first tier before we move to the next level.

Dating is a necessity in building relationships. Some married couples believe their return to dating helps to keep their romance alive. Dating is a time to communicate interest through discussions that lead to discovery. This should determine if there is a mutual interest. Dating helps you build a relationship before expectations creep in. For this reason, I believe sex too early in the relationship leads to unrealistic assessments and expectations.

Let's talk about how we get to the point where we are attracting dates with a system I call "Sheila's Rules."Rule one; we need to focus on the right thing. Generally, women focus on meeting someone to love and men focus on having sex. If we pay closer attention to what is said and done during the initial meetings instead of focusing on finding a "soul mate" or "sex mate", we increase our chances of developing more meaningful relationships centered on quality.

Rule two, get out and do something besides your daily routine. Unless you are waiting on the mailman/lady, you will never be seen if you are in the house. Change your everyday routine and incorporate something you have not done before.
  Rule three; always look your very best. Whether you are running an errand, going to the mall or taking a jog around the corner, make sure your hair is combed, clothes neat and breath is fresh. Feeling good about you is an external reflector. Rule four, change that Attitude. A good attitude at the very least makes you approachable. If your attitude says "don't even think about it," most people will not. My best advice is to check the attitude at the door.  Rule five, lift the Restrictions. Whether man or woman, too many restrictions are a turn off and also limits the pool of potential date candidates. Truthfully, too many restrictions are like roadblocks, difficult to get around. Rule six; concentrate on meeting people and not one person. You want to focus on people who enhance and enrich your life. There are so many life-enriching activities that are fun and fulfilling with or without a date.

The very first thing I suggested was to look in the mirror. The mirror is best known for helping you make an assessment of yourself. We should be realistic about what we see. Am I conscious of my physical appearance? Do I need to update or refresh my wardrobe? Do I need to visit a professional hairstylist or barber? Is my conversation diverse, uplifting and positive? Is my external beauty a reflection of my positive inner self?

Sheila's last rule is to give yourself a boost of confidence. Set a goal and own it. Some confidence builders are staying in touch with your spirituality, keep reaching higher and always look for opportunities that bless your life. "Building confidence requires the ability to believe in yourself or whatever the goal is you want to achieve.  Possessing vision and passion encourages you to enrich your life." Have a great date! 

(Some portions of this article include excerpts from my book, All About the Vets, A Sharing of Life Experiences for Women of Honor.) Reprint with permission only.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Now What? Reinventing Yourself After 40

See Sheila at this EVENT!

Now What? Reinventing Yourself After 40 

Thursday, November 03, 2011
Prairie Avenue Gallery
1900 South Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL 60616
5:00-6:00 Networking
6:00-7:00 Panel Discussion
7:00-8:00 Networking
Prairie Avenue Gallery, Chicago, IL, US
Keywords: Network, panel discussion
Being over 40 is not synonymous with being useless or ineffectual, quite the contrary. Indeed, we are more focused, reliable and diligent and have so many sharpened skills to contribute. The goal of this event is to create an informative and inspirational discussion to share our experiences.