Holding “Power Poses” (making your body appear big) can change your biochemistry making you less stressed and more confident, at ease, assertive, confident, relaxed, risk tolerant, and fearless. More in Amy Cuddy’s TED talk.
When my Mom and Sister are in airports or on long road trips, they pass the time by making up stories about fellow passengers as they wait, walk or whiz by. As elaborate as the details of these stories get, they’re all informed by the characters’ body language.
Whether or now we’re conscious of it, we communicate with our postures, stances, hand movements and twitching facial muscles. We all send messages about whether we’re happy or lying or bored or embarrassed that can be imperceptible to all but our subconscious minds.
But what about us? Does our own body language send our own subconscious brains messages? According to Amy Cuddy as shared in a TED talk, the answer is YES!
Cuddy’s research show that holding a “power pose” for 2 minutes a day can change your body chemistry and lower cortisol! “Power poses” include hands on hips, legs open (while remaining a lady if you are one :), arms up and out while talking, arms up with hands crossed behind your head, leg up on a chair… basically stances that make you look big (no growling required).
Don’t worry, as this 2-minute daily exercise will not transform you into a ruthless, cut-throat business person. You will not have an urge to wear heavily-starched shirts.
Holding power poses may simply dissolve away the biochemical curtain that’s keeping you from showing the world who you are. As Cuddy says, “Fake it till you become it!”
Alternatively, holding a “low-power pose” may do the opposite and cause your body to produce chemicals that urge you to hide & protect yourself. Low-power poses make you small: crossing your ankles and/or arms, hunching over, cupping your neck.
Check out the talk for pictures, more explanation and a very inspirational story.
So, why not try it? For 2 minutes every day (after waking, before sleeping, in a bathroom stall, in your office, on the bus!?), stand in your power like Wonder Woman. And if you’re about to go into a job interview or other potentially intimidating situation, take a power stance for 2 minutes just beforehand.
If you try it, please report back about what happened!
More info here:
- PDF of Harvard Research Paper by Amy Cuddy, Caroline Wilmuth & Dana Carneyr: The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation
- Article about Cuddy’s research from Harvard Business Review