Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, spoke at TEDGlobal 2012 about the psychological research behind power posing in her talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”
Take a moment to consider this picture.
As a bystander, how does your mood shift as you move from the top row to the bottom row of images? Is there a discernible change? How much more of a difference can posing like each picture make if you could sense a difference just by looking at it?
That is where the “strength” in power posing originates.
Power posing will cause instant changes in your body chemistry, which can influence the way you do your job or communicate with people around you, similar to how smiling sends a positive message to your brain.
Instead of shutting yourself off, high power posing encourages you to give up your body. It’s all about adopting a positive stance, even if you don’t feel confident, in order to appear more strong. Cuddy’s research shows that standing or sitting in a certain position, even for two minutes, increases testosterone levels while lowering cortisol levels. Lower levels of cortisol contribute to reduced anxiety and an enhanced ability to cope with stress in both men and women, while higher levels of testosterone lead to increased feelings of trust in both men and women.
Let’s look at each of the eight power poses one by one –
For Sleeping – Marissa Mayer
The process of being more dominant starts when you sleep. Simply because you slept in a low-power position, sleeping on your side with your arms and legs pulled toward your torso can make you feel extra sensitive or helpless during the day. The Marissa Mayer (named after Marissa Mayer’s popular Vogue photograph) is a high-power position in which you sleep with your legs outstretched and your arms either behind or outstretched. Your awakened self will feel bigger and therefore more strong in this place.
For Pre-Interview Pep, The Performer
This pose is most successful when held for at least two minutes because it begins to activate the above-mentioned positive hormonal changes. Start by planting your feet shoulder width apart and extending your arms in a “V” formation above your shoulders, chin tilted up, as if you were soaking up the glory of winning a coveted gold medal at the Olympics. This is the culmination of all of your hard work. Since this pose may be provocative in some circumstances, such as during a job interview, make sure you do it in a private space like a stairwell or a bathroom stall.
For Speaking Up – Mr. Clean
You give the message to everyone that you are secure in yourself and what you have to say by rolling your shoulders back and folding your arms across your chest. If the shoulders are slumped forward, on the other hand, the effect is less, well, impactful. The look of vulnerability or apprehension emanates from slouched shoulders. If you’re making a topical remark at a lunchroom discussion or hammering home a point at a major conference, the Mr. Clean will help you gain trust.
Obama – For Making a Proposal
The Obama is where you rest your feet on your desk, lean back in your office chair, and tie your hands behind your head, named after former US President Barrack Obama, who was frequently seen with his feet propped up on the Oval Office desk. This gives the impression that you are not only in control, but also confident and at ease in your leadership position.
The Wonder Woman – For Confident Conversation
This is, without a doubt, the classic Wonder Woman pose: broad stance, shoulders back, chest puffed out, head tilted up, and both hands firmly placed on hips. This pose conveys the message, “I’m calm and at ease.”
The Squinch is a negotiating tool.
The Squinch is the newest fad in body language since it shows that trust (or lack thereof) is expressed through the eyes. Squinting your eyes, which is also followed by a head tilt, communicates to those around you that you believe in yourself and the argument you’re making.
The Loomer – For Deal Closing
To demonstrate that you are engaged and in a position of superiority, place your hands on a table and lean forward while standing, transferring your weight onto your hands.
For Conducting an Interview, the CEO
Leaning back in your chair, knees apart, and hands resting behind your neck, similar to The Obama, exudes trust and comfort. The aim of this position is to open up your body while keeping your feet planted. Relaxing an arm on the back of the chair or leaning an ankle on the knee are two variations.
Body language not only affects how others perceive us, but it also triggers physiological changes that impact how we see and feel about ourselves. Posing with authority will improve our self-esteem, which can affect our chances of success. How to Hold a Meeting with Trust has more ideas about how to conduct business with confidence.
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