12/13/2012 10:59 am ET

That Time I Tried To Be Wonder Woman

Body language! You are probably aware that it factors into your social, professional, and romantic relationships—even if you’re unsure exactly how. Maybe you’ve devoured articles about how to improve yours in various women’s magazines. Maybe you’ve secretly taken the advice of that body-language expert who’s always on Bill O’Reilly’s show to dissect the hand motions and neck placements of various politicians. Maybe you’ve even saved up to attend a workshop with the Date Whisperer. Or maybe you think it’s a load of bunk—I wouldn’t know unless you told me, with your body.

Of course, nonverbal communication exists. The angle of your shoulders, the tilt of your smile: All of that undoubtedly adds up to an aura, a general impression that beams off you like a radio wave. Often, the physical messages you send elude your conscious control. I know, for instance, that sometimes my body says things like “I just learned five minutes ago that Scotch comes from Scotland,” even while my mouth is saying, “I, too, find craft distilleries quite interesting.” Surely we all would be happier if we could regulate our corporal “speech” more skillfully. But how much happier? Just how effective are particular poses at getting you what you want?

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