The Power Of Posture

By May 13, 2014 February 23rd, 2018 Blog, Gestures, Physiology

The following might seem ridiculously obvious, and what I will suggest as a behavioural practice almost childishly simplistic.

Next time you are in a meeting make a conscious assessment of those in attendance. Determine those who are nervous, engaged, self-conscious, assured, compliant, the power players, the disengaged or the negative. Do this before the meeting starts. We all do this automatically anyway so this time track how you ‘know’ the state a person is in. The answer, of course, is found in how they carry themselves. Their postural presence (or lack of) speaks volumes about their state. Posture counts.

The whole ‘sit up’ messages of childhood allude to this obvious truth. Amy Cuddy, associate professor at Harvard Business School, revealed that holding a simple power pose (standing tall, feet apart, head up, a ‘winner’ posture) before a meeting, presentation or interview can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and lead to an increase in testosterone, the hormone of dominance.

What the research also found was that the people who used these power positions were evaluated at a higher standard for their ability to influence people, win a pitch or get the job.

Understanding this immediately gives you a behavioural tool to change mood or emotional attitude in any context or situation. It’s the behaviour simply known as act as if’.

A simple example would be overcoming nerves. If you are lacking confidence or feeling ‘paralysed’ by nerves prior to a presentation, pitch, important meeting, difficult conversation etc then adopting the ‘physiology of confidence’ will literally trigger the state of confidence (an emotion) in your bearing and demeanor immediately.

This may seem contrived or simplistic, however the work Cuddy and her colleagues have produced is remarkably compelling and validated. Of course you can simply test this hypothesis by simply practicing this daily. We have seen dramatic shifts in thousands of participants on our programs over the years via the simple application of the ‘act as if’ practice.

So before your next meeting, presentation or pitch find a space and expand, make yourself BIG for at least two minutes then observe how it changes the way you feel and helps to steady any nerves. It will lead to a noticeable change in the way others interact with you.

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