What does your body language say about how powerful you are – Do you Power Pose? Do you stand tall and show up when you walk into a meeting? Do you sit in the corner, your hands in your lap, your chin tucked in, your shoulders hunched? There has been much research around body language, but last year I saw Ann Cuddy’s TED talk that addresses not so much what our body language say to others, but what our body language says to us.
This 20 minute video could change your life. Ann Cuddy provides scientific research that proves it’s not Fake It Till You Make It, but Fake It Till You Become It.
Apes, snakes, and bears do the power pose along with Mick and Oprah
Ms. Cuddy’s research shows that following the example of primates in the wild, the more space we take up (or the more we expand) the more confident and powerful we become. “And what are nonverbal expressions of power and dominance?” Ann ask in the video. “Well, this is what they are. In the animal kingdom, they are about expanding. So you make yourself big, you stretch out, you take up space, you’re basically opening up. It’s about opening up. And this is true across the animal kingdom. It’s not just limited to primates. And humans do the same thing. So they do this both when they have power sort of chronically, and also when they’re feeling powerful in the moment.”
And what happens when you make yourself smaller? Ann says we become powerless. “What do we do when we feel powerless? We do exactly the opposite. We close up. We wrap ourselves up. We make ourselves small. We don’t want to bump into the person next to us. So again, both animals and humans do the same thing..”
How many times have you gone into a meeting and hunched over the table, keeping your body as small as possible? Never? Well, you’re not me I’ve spent a lot of time trying to look smaller.
As a child, I was 5′ 8″ when I was 11 years old, much taller than anyone in my class, especially the boys. I hunched down as much as possible, but I was still 5′ 8″. My mom would always hit me in the back and tell me to straighten up. My teachers would tell me to sit up straight. Well meaning adults would tell me that if I stood up tall I could be a model when I grew up – that is all tall girls could accomplish back then. I was heavily recruited by new gym teachers for basketball teams, until they learned I had no coordination or desire to play the game. It’s no wonder I didn’t know how to be powerful. I had only practiced small.
Here’s the other thing, when I walk into a meeting where I am confident and I believe in getting the deal done, I am powerful, and I do the Power Pose without thinking.. Just like the people in the video, I can spread out and be powerful.. Yet when I’m not quite sure of the people in the room or not totally comfortable with the topic of the meeting, I revert back to small.
Do the Two Minute Power Pose
Ann Cuddy’s research shows the by holding the power pose for as little as two minutes can change hormone levels that enable people to feel more confident and powerful. Here’s what they found with testosterone. When the subjects take the high-power poses they experience about a 20-percent increase, and low-power poses experience about a 10-percent decrease. The change in cortisol levels in high-power pose subject experience about a 25-percent decrease, and the low-power pose subjects experience about a 15-percent increase. So two minutes lead to these hormonal changes that configure your brain to basically be confident and comfortable, or really stress-reactive, and, feeling sort of shut down.
I decided to try out the power pose before I went into a job interview. I don’t have any saliva test to prove it, but I do think there was a little shift in my testosterone levels. I now use it before I go into those questionable meetings. My colleagues must think I have a bladder issue the way I run to the restroom before we head down to the meeting room. Two minutes of holding the power pose in a bathroom stall and I feel ready to go.
We like to think that you have the ability to project power or you don’t. It’s something you are born with. Ann Cuddy believes that if we practice it, we can learn to be powerful. I think this is important, especially for women We need to be able to bring our power into the business world and bring our influence to the table.
Would you use the Power Pose? Have you used it? Did you practice it, or did you always have it? Share your story with us. Tweet us, post on our Facebook, or upload your story on Youtube. #LeaveYourLegacy.
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