What if I told you that you could instantly boost your confidence and mood in a mere few minutes a day… for free. According to research, it is very possible. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has one of the most viewed TED Talks of All time. She developed the idea of “power posing” in 2009 after hearing the former F.B.I. agent Joe Navarro describe how police investigators sometimes used tactics to make themselves feel imposing such as using a bigger chair during interrogations. She decided to test the science behind it.
“Our bodies change our minds,” says Professor Cuddy. Her research paper written in 2010 showed that standing or sitting in a high powered pose for as little as two minutes, raises testosterone levels by about 20 percent and lowers the stress hormone cortisol by about 25 percent.
In both men and women, higher levels of testosterone lead to increased feelings of confidence. Meanwhile, lower levels of cortisol lead to decreased anxiety and an improved ability to deal with stress.
Women in particular often shrink in public settings, surmised Cuddy during her talk. The men in her Harvard classes shoot their arms straight up to answer questions, while the women tend toward a bent-elbow wave. In combination with touching the face or neck or crossing the ankles tightly while sitting, “these postures are associated with powerlessness and intimidation and keep people back from expressing who they really are,” she summarized.
Cuddy suggests that our attitudes often follow from our behaviours, what she calls a “body-mind nudge”, as opposed to the other way around. In other words, mimicking the body language of a powerful person can make you feel confident more quickly than, say, positive self talk which may take longer to set in and resonate.
The most powerful leaders don’t merely think a certain way, they carry themselves a certain way and Ms. Cuddy is certainly not alone in her thinking. Since the success of her talk, Cuddy has been invited to speak at companies around the world. According to Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity “It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.”
By now you are probably wondering what exactly a power pose is and how to do it. According to Cuddy, power poses are expansive and open. When holding one, you take up a lot of space and hold your arms and legs away from your body. For example, in “The Wonder Woman” power pose, you stand with your feet apart, your hands on your hips, and your chin tilted upward.
While it may not be appropriate to strike the wonder woman pose in a meeting or interview, try out the pose in the bathroom or your office before heading into the meeting for a quick confidence boost.
Link to Amy Cuddy’s TED talk is here: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are
By Kim England