One of the primary goals of Women Who Walk the Talk™ is to inspire women to say exactly what we mean with confidence and effectiveness, no matter what influences seem to stand in our way. These influences can be outside forces—such as pressure from family and friends—or they can be internal, based on our own limiting beliefs about our value and potential.

Your best approach in any situation is to walk your talk, saying your truth in your own unique voice, and allowing your body language to underscore your words. Otherwise, no matter how lofty your speech, you may be judged as an imposter.

Speaking woman to woman, I know that using complete honesty in expressing how we feel isn’t always an easy matter. Many of us have developed a noble but self-sabotaging habit of putting others first—the men in our lives, our children, or our employers—and trying to project that we’re totally fine, while we bury our frustration and try to hide our breaking spirits. While we’ve become adept at multi-tasking and overextending ourselves, our efforts to seem unflappable aren’t really working at optimum levels.

You may be surprised to learn that actual speech comprises less than 10% of our communication with others, body language over 50%, and tone of voice the remaining 40%. While a greater awareness of our nonverbal communication can help us to convey more confidence and make a more positive impression, most experts agree that it’s impossible to completely control how others interpret what we’re saying with our body language.

Since most of our body language is determined at a subconscious level, its manifestation is subtle and complex, so while we may think we’re successful at convincing others of an untruth—or basically telling a lie—they’re likely to read our nonverbal cues and detect our efforts at deception. By the way, women have generally been found to be more receptive to nonverbal cues than men.

Studies have shown that a person will make a assessment about another within the first seconds of meeting whether or not they will like him or her. Clearly, this doesn’t give any of us much time to put up a good front. While most people can read others’ body language with remarkable acuity without formal training, some signals to recognize when someone is being untruthful are:

  • Glancing away/sideways glancing
  • Forced eye contact
  • Stiff posture
  • Fidgeting
  • Hand hiding
  • Pupil contraction
  • Controlled vocal tone
  • Stutters, slurs, and hesitations
  • Sweating
  • Giggling

Another interesting clue that betrays your frame of mind is pointing your feet in a direction that reveals you’re ready to leave, rather than toward the person with whom you’re sharing a conversation.

Some of these behaviors could indicate self-consciousness or shyness. The best remedy for any sort of uneasiness it to focus on the other person, and concentrate on making that individual comfortable, rather than riveting on the impression you’re making. Besides, it’s wise to question the source of your nervousness. Are you trying to hide something you’d be embarrassed to reveal? If you’re selling a product or service, is it something you believe in?

Avoiding potentially awkward situations by keeping it all inside is not a proactive resolution to a problem. Perhaps someone seems to be taking you for granted, or isn’t doing his or her share of the housework: instead of secretly fuming about it and expecting the other party to read your mind, plan ahead how to arrange a peaceful conversation to reach a solution that both parties accept.

The adage that “no one’s going to believe in you until you believe in yourself,” is true. But a sense of self-worth can’t be accomplished overnight. Take it easy on yourself: set aside time to engage in activities you enjoy in order to become a happier individual. Set goals in developing your authenticity. When you learn to relax and be yourself, self-assurance will replace self-consciousness, and you’ll be amazed how much easier it is to elicit a more appreciative response from others.

Still, it’s no light matter. Your integrity and your credibility are defined by the nonverbal cues you project as well as your speech. Even more important, your health and wellbeing depend on your state of mind. Let the best you—and that’s always the real you—shine through. Make it a firm practice to walk your talk.

M.K. Jones