You see it all the time. In boardrooms, in meetings, in presentations. Your colleague stands up, walks across the room, and slays the client by effortlessly saying exactly what he wants the way he wanted to.
Meanwhile, you are slouched in a chair finishing your second water bottle in anticipation of the two sentences you will have to contribute to the conversation.
How Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
In a recent TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cudy introduced an interesting study that claimed your body language shapes who you are. Her fascination with nonverbal expression led her to focus on how people communicate power and dominance with their body.
“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.”
She goes on to say that the powerless communicate in the opposite way by closing up and that in general this is more common among women.
This isn’t a surprise. Women are more likely to cross their legs and position their bodies to make themselves look smaller, tighter, and well thinner.
This body language can be seen by many females in the media including:
And Lady Gaga who proved she could fit inside of an egg.
But what is interesting is that this type of body language can have a big impact on your brain and on the way you act.
Enter the Power Pose
Through a study, Amy Cudy and her collegues were able to find that having participants position their bodies in a high power poses for just 2 minutes not only increased their risk tolerance levels, but also raised their testosterone levels (the dominance hormone) 20%.
Levels for cortisol, another key chemical for power, dropped. (Note: When cortisol levels are lower in your body, you are better able to handle stressful situations.) They also found having participants use low power poses had the opposite effect. It lowered risk tolerance and testosterone levels while increasing cortisol levels.
And while Cudy doesn’t recommend doing extreme poses in a meeting or interview, she does recommend building your confidence by practicing a power position minutes before entering the boardroom.
Her advice? “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it until you become it.”
So while models in the media are telling you to do this:
If you want to slay it in the work world, you should probably be doing this:
Or if you are feeling even more ambitious with spandex, this:
Basically any power pose that European pop star Robyn throws down.