As humans our physicality can be a very powerful indicator of our true feelings, thoughts and intentions. It’s often difficult to hide the story we tell with our bodies, even if we acknowledge and know how we present ourselves. Subconsciously we all recognise others story’s and like wise tell our own. Understanding this doesn’t necessarily mean we are exempt from from it either, but we can choose our attitude and take appropriate action to have more control over our judgment of others and neutralise how we may outwardly appear.
In addition, our voice, characteristics, actions, accent and the choice of words we use all trigger emotionally connected responses from others who are, for the most part, unaware of their own prejudice.
Before we continue I just want to point out that I’m not a psychologist, doctor or even analyst. I have no medical or scientific proof to back up any of my claims. I am only sharing with you what I have learned after spending a whole lot of time studying people… and some animals too.
People love stories and they love them to be told well. Trust me, the best story tellers are those who are at ease telling them, at ease with themselves and comfortable in their own skin.
Our body and mind are connected; they are one, each affecting the other. You can manipulate your body in order to affect your mind and vice versa, your mind controls what you chose to do with your body. But just because you can imagine yourself to be well it doesn’t mean you are immune to illness and won’t catch cold once in a while!
Our body language, characteristics and mere presence in a space presents an opportunity for others to subconsciously stereotype us, and that judgement is something that that we have developed through our lives, from personal experience as well as from films and commonly shared archetypes (I’ll go deeper into this subject another time).
Just recently I was giving a pitch presentation, on this very subject, at a competition in Helsinki. One of the judges even after I had quite clearly explained how we all project our own story onto others actually said to me in my feedback, that I had scared her!! Urm what? Were you not listening?
Now maybe if they had paid more attention to the content of my pitch and less on their feelings toward me, then they might have learned something about this. The truth of the matter is that I had done nothing to scare them. The real reason they were fearful of me was because of the judgement they had already made before I even spoke. So they assumed and allowed themselves to feel frightened. We all do this and for many different individual reasons, however quite often the stereotypes are clear cut and easy for us to pigeonhole.
As an actor I have become used to getting characterised and stereotyped (usually as the bad guy). The socially accepted understanding that someone who looks and talks and acts like me will always get the roles of bad guys only enhances this archetype which is of course false and misleading.
Maybe the origins of these predispositions come from a place of historical truth however I’m not convinced anyone one should be judged on the way they look, because (for example) when people are treated like criminals, they start reacting according to how they are being treated and tend to play out these roles in our society.
Imagine if everyone thought Kate Moss was ugly, told her so and society all agreed that she wasn’t as fair as we now consider. She wouldn’t have had the life she has, she might feel rejected, lonely and negatively self conscious; maybe even bitter, jealous or ashamed. Perhaps being considered ugly would make her feel and therefore act in an ugly manner? I mean beauty is just a passing trend anyway, it’s imaginary and doesn’t really exist in a physical realm…does it?
But If I’m such an expert at performance and presenting myself then could I not present myself differently in order to change the story that I am aware that I carry? (and not go around scaring poor vulnerable judges of their subconscious judgments) In short No! Why should I? Why should any body? I realise and utilise my skills to portray other people, but I quite like me to be me the way I am and refuse to fall victim to the way the world see’s me. If I did then maybe I’d be in jail right now, who knows?
There is a reason however that I would never get cast to play Romeo... just saying!
And despite not wanting to adapt too much to the mould our society is begging me to fall into, It’s good to realise these preconceptions.
For entrepreneurs, start up companies, jobseekers and likewise actors auditioning for roles, it can be useful to have such self awareness so that we might pick the best part to play, or the most suitable person on our team to speak or stand as the voice/face of our company or services. Maybe it would hinder your effort or business to have characters who look like psychos to sell baby products??? Maybe going to a job interview at a sports shop wearing a suit tells the wrong story too??
I remember the first time I became fully aware of my own malevolent persona; It happened when I was talking to an acquaintance whom I admired but hadn’t seen for a long time. I was listening to his story and smiling at him when out of the blue he said…”is everything alright Darren?” to which I replied “yes, of course, why?” and he answered “because you’re looking at me like you want to kill me” …..STOP! WHAT? WOW!!! I was gobsmacked (goodness knows what thatmust have looked like) as I was literally sending him good vibes and genuinely smiling with interest at his story…. and that’s how I appeared to him? Really? So my stereotype is so powerful that this man actually got scared of me (me who was quietly smiling along) and all because of the way that I look!
If we understand how our physicality and actions are (unconsciously) viewed by others then we might be better able to change and manipulate our story according to what we really want to say.
This is just the very beginning of what voice work can help you with.
It can’t make the world see you any differently, but It can help you change the way you appear to the world. Voice work is all about building solid foundations within ourselves. Foundations that eventually transpose as outward confidence. We can find ease of effort in our actions, clear our minds and gain intuitive and intentive listening skills. Providing us with the tools in which to present ourselves as the strong, talented, beautiful beings that we are.