Be Powerful: Channel Your Inner Wonder Woman in Just 2 Minutes
Have you ever been told not to stand with your hands on your hips? In high school I remember a lesson on body language, specifically to keep our arms relaxed at our sides in order to appear open and friendly. This body language wisdom handed down to young adults is absolutely correct–but the problem is in what they, especially young women, are not taught–how to use body language to be powerful. And just two minutes of body language a day can, in theory, make anyone feel and be more successful.
Your body language affects you
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, has one of the most-viewed TED talks, ever, with over 4 million views. She presents an interesting idea about body language–we think about body language as what are we saying to others with our non-verbals, but Cuddy points out that we should think about what we’re saying to ourselves through body language.
In the classroom of the MBA classes she taught, Cuddy noticed that some students took up a lot of space and raised their whole arm in the air when answering a question. Other students made themselves small, crossing their legs and tentatively raising their hands partway. There was a strong gender divide, with female students adopting the poses that appear smaller and less powerful. “Women feel chronically less powerful than men, so this is not surprising,” Cuddy says in the TED talk.
Fascinated by the power dynamics of non-verbals, Cuddy studied if you can “fake it til you make it.” Do our non-verbals govern how we feel about ourselves? She says yes.
Give yourself an advantage with power poses
By adopting a high-power pose for just two minutes, the hormones in your body actually change. Testosterone, the hormone associated with dominance and leadership goes up, and the stress hormone cortisol goes down. Effective leaders have been studied to have high levels of testosterone and low levels of cortisol, implying that we can trick our minds into thinking we are more powerful and less stress-reactive.
Before you go into a stressful, evaluative situation, Cuddy advises everyone to spend two minutes in a powerful pose, like the “Wonder Woman” pose (hands on hips, feet shoulder width apart). She terms these “power poses.” You don’t have to walk around that way all day long–you can simply stand in power poses in private before you go into a stressful meeting or job interview, for example. Try it and give yourself an advantage–you have nothing to lose but two minutes.
Here’s the TED talk if you’re interested in hearing about the power poses first hand:
What do you think about using body language to increase your personal power?
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