I was viewing some of the outstanding videos on TEDEd (http://ed.ted.com/) and came across one titled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” by Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate professor at Harvard Business School.
Some of you may be aware that I am a student of body language and her presentation brought about a revelation that, up to now, I did not fully understand. We have all heard someone say, “Fake it till you make it.” I first heard something similar to this a long time ago in a statement by Earl Nightingale. He said simply, “You become what you think about.” This means that you should only think of what you want to be and become. Essentially, fake it in your mind and your mind will believe it and make it happen.
In nonverbal communication, we know that our bodies provide as much as 55% of the message with the verbal tones and such adding about 38% and the words the remaining 7%. We smile when happy and we expand our space when we feel powerful. These nonverbal cues demonstrate our feelings.
Ms. Cuddy conducted experiments to see if we can influence our feeling by purposely taking on a power pose, such as hands on hips, feet apart, chin up like Superman is often portrayed. Also the hands up in the air in a victory pose. Since our nonverbal cues influence others, can we influence ourselves as well.
Her experiments prove that when someone assumes a “Power Pose” for just 2 minutes some amazing things happen. Participants demonstrate that risk tolerance (willingness to gamble) increases by 86%, testosterone increases by 20% and the stress hormone, Cortisol, decreases by 25%. When someone assumes a “Low Power” pose (withdrawn, minimizing space, etc.) risk tolerance increase only to 60%, Testosterone decrease by 10% and Cortisol increases by 15%.
This means that by just posing in a powerful way, we will feel powerful and confident. In fact our nonverbal cues will influence our own feelings and therefore our actions. Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcome. This is powerful stuff. Pretend outwardly for two minutes and become.
Ms. Cuddy points out that this pose is for our own selves and should probably be conducted in private. Don’t just stand like Superman by the water cooler for a couple of minutes.
At the end of her presentation Ms Cuddy asked that I try power posing and share the science. So I assumed the position until Ruth caught me, shook her head and walked away. I then sat down to share the science with you. Fake it till you become it and pay it forward.
So… Before you conduct that scary presentation, or enter that very important meeting, or step into the boxing ring, assume the two-minute power pose and you will feel powerful and confident. You will still get knocked out but you will crumble to the mat with confidence.
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