Postdate: 13 September 2017
Manipulation at work is often seen as a form of emotional blackmail, because you exert influence on others without being aware of it. The deliberate manipulation of your body can actually have advantages. This has to do with embodied cognition.
Manipulation happens unconsciously
The word 'manipulation' generally involves a negative charge. It is not weird either, since manipulation can mean that you deliberately influence someone to get what you want, often even at the expense of someone else. This happens without the other person being aware of it. As soon as you come into contact with someone, you influence him or her and vice versa. Not only what you say can have a manipulating effect: also your body language, the tone of your voice and your posture can manipulate. Advertisers consciously use manipulation, for example by constantly reminding us that life improves if we use their product. You too can apply manipulation to your own body.
Fake it 'till you make it
Not all studies agree that this always works, but you can always try this exercise: when you put a pen horizontally between your lips, your mouth comes to a laughing state. Your muscles thereby give a signal to the brain, which recognizes the smile as 'happy'. The effect of this is that you actually feel happier. We call this facial feedback, and is part of embodied cognition: the idea that the brain is not connected to the body alone, but that the body also influences the brain (and thus behaviour) the other way around. This idea goes back to Darwin, who said that the full expression of an emotion strengthens the emotion while suppressing this expression weakens the emotion. When the muscles are manipulated in a laughing position, then what is looked at is judged more positively than when the muscles are in a neutral or anti-laughing position.
The principle of laughter also works with clothes. Imagine that you are applying for the position of director: then you would do well to put on a suit. When you dress to who you want to be, you automatically behave more towards it. Be aware of this and take advantage of it!
'Choose kindness and laugh often'