I read once that taller people make more money, tend to be more successful, and are “more respected” in the work place. I never found that blanket statement to be 100% true because it doesn’t take into account other traits that are essential for personal success. After I entered the professional world for myself as an educator, I soon realized that body language, not solely my height, has truly made a difference in my career path and my personal interactions with my students. I recently have moved into the role of a STEM educator in South LA where I teach 6th grade students both math and science. While teaching can be seemingly difficult for a number of reasons, standing in front of a class with grace commands both respect and attention from all children. My body language is one of my greatest assets in the classroom. It asserts discipline and authority, and in many cases speaks for me before I can verbally make a sound.
Michelle Yeoh once said that “Body language is more fascinating to me than actual language.” And I couldn’t agree with her more. You can be any height and exude poise and confidence simply by how you stand. Tilting your head to the sky, pushing your chest out with your feet planted on the floor can undoubtedly yield positive attention and garner more positive reactions. Taller people don’t make more money— confident people do. Body language is something I try to be conscious of not only in my personal life but in my professional life as well. People, especially children, can read how genuine you are the second you walk into a room. Presenting my best self to them at the very beginning of the day is what I focus on even before my lessons start.
Being 6’2” has made me more conscious of my body language. When I was younger I was always very aware that “my height” could be “intimidating.” I made sure that I didn’t hover over people, invade their personal space, or look down on them in any demeaning way. I knew that I had a decision to make: either turn my height into a positive attribute that would work in my favor or manipulate my posture to give off “negative” energy. It is safe to say that I chose the first option and became much more gracious in my stance and coupled that with confidence. I quickly knew the difference between intimidation and conviction. I smile every time I stand up straight and give off positive energy through my chest I as speak. I stand with my arms out or to my sides, and never with them across my chest. I ensure my feet are planted in direct proportion to my shoulders and that I exert my energy upward and not inward. These few tactics have made all the difference in my corporate life and in my transition to teaching. Because I am more confident in my posture, my students are more open to what I am saying, and take to the content more quickly and effectively. I have become a better teacher simply by using my physical features to work in my favor.
We all know that in many cases it isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Remember to always use your height and body language as a positive reinforcement in connection to your voice. Poise and confidence will take you places you can’t even imagine!