“Power Poses”: Use your Body to Fake it Until You Make it

I thoroughly recommend checking out the Poptech video by Dr Amy Cuddy, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, it’s great to watch during your next coffee break.

My favourite points from the video are:

1. Smile To Make Yourself Happy: We tend to think being happy leads us to smile, but actually the reverse is true as well. Smiling even when you’ve had a lousy day at work actually boosts your mood and helps you overcome that sense of malaise we all get from time to time.

2. Spread Your Legs Ladies! Cuddy discusses how she noticed that non-white men and women of all races on her MBA programmes spoke up less and took up the least amount of physical space. For example, women cross their arms and legs and fold themselves into smaller poses when speaking. She and a colleague were inspired to run an experiment forcing these students for just two minutes to ‘take up more space’ by putting their arms behind their heads, putting their feet up on a table or spreading their legs further when seated or standing. Amazingly they started contributing more to discussions and ‘owned their space’ with the confidence that imbued.

3. Ramp Up your Testosterone for Confidence: For too long we have associated testosterone only with men, but Cuddy points out that the hormone actually increases in any situation involving leadership skills and dominance. Fascinatingly there are ways we can artificially increase it to our advantage before we go into situations where we need to feel in control; like interviews, negotiations, appraisals, speeches or meetings.

4. Don’t Kill Them With Kindness: A last insightful point Cuddy makes about meeting new people is to avoid being sycophantic, as it immediately puts you in the lower position – not a great start to any discussion. I have certainly fallen foul of meeting someone I admire; smothering them with praise such as “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m finally meeting you…” which immediately makes me at best secondary player. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a compliment, but go for a much less saccharine “I have admired your work on …” or “It’s lovely to finally meet you, I enjoyed hearing you speak at…”    before following up on what you share in common.

We will be discussing how vital positive body language is to every day success in an upcoming webinar on April 16th, Postures for Professional Prominence: Using Positive Non-Verbal Behaviour to Persuade and Influence. I will be pairing up with Elizabeth Kuhnke author of Body Language for Dummies and Persuasion and Influence for Dummies.


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