Here is the full transcript of body language expert Ann Washburn’s TEDx Talk presentation on Body Language: The Key to Your Subconscious at TEDxIdahoFalls conference. This event occurred on April 2, 2016.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Body Language – The Key to Your Subconscious by Ann Washburn at TEDxIdahoFalls
So have you ever had one of those buttons popped up on your computer screen that says, “Software updates available. Do you want to install it now?” Well, our computers use programs to process vast amounts of information, and programmers know that if we are running faulty programs, we get faulty results. And this is why we have the upgrade process of our computers.
Well, it turns out your subconscious works much the same way. In fact, our subconscious will process up to 40 million pieces of information every single second. And in order to process those huge amounts of information, our subconscious chooses programs. And the thing is we’ve been choosing those programs since we were a child. And now as an adult, we may still be running the same programs and getting messy results in our life.
So, who wants an upgrade button for their subconscious programming? I have figured out how to access mind, and that’s what I want to share with you.
So I want you to play with me here for a minute. Everybody, fold your arms. Good. Now look down and see which arm is on top. OK, unfold them, now fold them back with the other arm on top. OK, how does that feel? It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable. This person over here is like arms do not do that.
But what you’re feeling there, in science, they have a term called cognitive dissonance. Now cognitive dissonance states that we cannot hold on to two conflicting ideas without discomfort. Our brain cannot hold on to two conflicting ideas without discomfort. So, you can all unfold your arms now. I don’t want you to fold your arms to halt the time. But what you felt there was the feeling of a conflicting program. And so cognitive dissonance is one of the parts that gives us an opportunity to upgrade our subconscious programming.
And here is the other part. When it comes to communication, there are three main parts to our communication. There’s the words that we speak, and then there’s the tone of those words. Have you ever gotten in trouble for your tone of voice? Yeah, it has messages within. And the third part is our gestures or our body language. And so when we don’t know what messages we’re sending with our body language and they don’t match the words we speak, people will discount the words that they hear to believe the gestures they see. Because our subconscious understands the difference between those two messages.
But Ann, how can our brains send out two different messages at the same time? Well, it’s because your subconscious is what runs the majority of your body language. And remember, our subconscious is working on programs. And our subconscious, or our whole brain is inherently ought to conserve energy. Our brain wants to conserve energy and knows that it’s easier to maintain the current programs than to adopt a new one. And so when we put these two ideas together we now have access to this update for our subconscious programming.
So let me explain by telling you where I was in my life, not too long ago. In fact, it was only about 6 years ago that I was at a place where, let’s just say, it was very hard. I tried to interact with people and I found people to be very argumentative, to be unpredictable, to be hard to be around. And it was just not fun, and I decided that everybody on this planet is just mean, it’s just the way it was. In fact, I got too weird, I would send my kids to school in the morning and then I would hide inside the house. And I wouldn’t answer the door and I wouldn’t answer the phone. Because no matter how hard I had tried the results I was getting were not matching the effort I was putting forth to interact with people. And I felt stuck.
So this is where I was, and I saw people having opportunities but I couldn’t seem to catch one for myself. So even though in my life I had worked as an engineer in flight simulation and explosives, this is the point in my life where I changed and started studying communication and body language. And as I learned these two parts that I just told you, I started to recognize that they would give me a choice to change the way I interact with people. And I began to put it into practice, because I wanted to understand why some people could figure these things out but I wasn’t.
So let me teach you a little bit about body language, so you can understand what’s going on here. When somebody feels weak, if I feel weak I will use weak closed body language, my shoulders will come down, I’ll fold my arms, I’ll look down, maybe even my weight goes on one leg, because I feel weak.
But by contrast, when somebody feels strong their body language opens up, they might put their arms down to their side, their shoulders go up, their chin goes up, they’ll smile, their weight goes on both legs. Now remember in my life at this time I felt weak, but I wanted to be strong. And so I decided I was going to figure this out. And I looked around me at people who were successful. I looked at celebrities, I looked at business owners, I looked at people around me in relationships that were having very strong and powerful relationships. And I realized that these successful people were not behaving exactly the same as me.
So, here’s how it looked for me. Since I felt weak, and I was afraid of the people I was interacting with, I very often folded my arms. I kept my arms folded a lot. And if anybody had asked me why, I’d tell them, “Because I have nowhere else to put my hands when I’m not using them.” I don’t want them just hanging out here, I’m going to fold my arms. But when I watched these successful people, the majority of the time when they weren’t using their hands, they put them down to their sides. So I decided I was going to try it.
And if you could have been in my brain at that time, it would have been very entertaining, because as I walked around I had this dissonance going on inside of my head, because my old program was saying ‘people are unsafe’. But I was choosing to send a message that I felt strong and comfortable and open around people. So I said, ‘My hands will go here when I’m not using them’. Now that doesn’t mean I walk around like this, that would be very weird. But it does mean that when I wasn’t using them, I put them away here. But then my subconscious would say, ‘It’s more comfortable to fold your arms’ and I’d say, ‘No, I want my arms here.’ ‘Fold them here, fold them here, fold them here.’ And that’s what it felt like in my head.