Standing Tall

or How I learned to stop slouching and power pose my way into self-confidence

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 superman

I want you, for a moment, to think of the most powerful, brave and courageous superhero you know. Close your eyes for a moment and envision the character. Pay attention to their stance, their posture, their pose. Perhaps they have their hands on their hips, standing up straight, chin held high. Maybe they are flexing their muscles. How much of their image of strength and heroism is portrayed by their body language? What does their body language say about them?  Body language is one of the most integral parts of how we as humans communicate to one another. How we sit, stand, look and gesture can say so much more than words can and when you are “ing-ing” (job searchING, interviewING, networkING), your body language can convey messages to potential employers and colleagues, such as your level of confidence…or lack there of.  But did you also realize that your body language can also convey messages to your own brain? Researchers have been studying the various ways our body language affects the biological processes in the body and brain and evidence has been suggesting that “power posing” actually has some real effect on the way the brain responds to stressful situations, including things like interviewing. According to Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap, researchers who conducted a study on power posing concluded that:

“…results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications. (Carney, Cuddy, Yap 2010)”

So, what exactly is “Power Posing” you might be asking yourself. Power posing is exactly what it sounds like…standing or sitting in a powerful pose. Think Superman or Wonder Woman.  Assuming a powerful stance can, according to the study, increase feelings of power and confidence by preparing your brain and physiological systems to get ready for a stressful situation.  This can be wildly helpful for someone who is a nervous or not-so confident interviewee. By triggering the brain to be prepared for a stressful situation and simulating feelings of power and confidence, the nervous interviewee can begin to overcome feelings of apprehension, nervousness and lack of confidence, all of which could be problematic during the interview process.

I’ve actually used power posing myself and have found that it really shifted the way I felt both physically and mentally. Some time ago, I had an interview for a promotional opportunity for a position that I had really wanted (I’ll save you the suspense…I didn’t get the position) so I was incredibly nervous. and in fact, it was the first time in years that I was nervous for an interview. After all, I taught other people how to interview! But nevertheless, I was a nervous wreck. I had been hearing a lot about this power posing theory so I decided that I had nothing to lose but my nerves by trying it out so I went into the bathroom before my interview and closed the stall door behind me and power posed for a good 3 minutes. I held these poses and concentrated on wanting to exude the confidence these poses represented in my interview. I focused on feeling powerful and brave. Soon my nerves were replaced with confidence and I was able to have a fantastic interview. So while I didn’t get the job I learned something valuable that day…I learned how to overcome my nerves with a simple (and fun) technique.

I’ve recommended power posing to my clients in the past and many have used the technique to prepare for interviews or job fairs and have said that they have seen a change in the way they approach situations that have made them nervous in the past. Next time you are faced with a situation that sends your nerves into overdrive, try power posing! Strike a powerful pose for a few minutes when you need that extra boost or do it every day to grow those feelings of confidence and power! Have you tried power posing? If so, let us know how it worked for you!

For some more information on Power Posing:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/10/business/bolt-success-power-posing/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323608504579022942032641408.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html (Awesome TED talks about power posing with Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers from the study mentioned)

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