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Your Body Language and the Power Pose of Success

Sonia McDonald

Did you know that your body language directly affects your life and career success? It’s true.

In an experiment with soccer players, it was found that the stance had a direct bearing on how the player was perceived. Penalty takers with dominant body language were perceived more positively by soccer goalkeepers and players and were expected to perform better than players with a submissive body language.

An experiment at Harvard produced similar findings. It tested whether “changing nonverbal behavior prior to a high-stakes social evaluation could improve performance in the evaluated task. As predicted, high power posers performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire.”

It’s the same in the workplace. If you look successful, people think you are successful and will see you as highly credible. Just think what that might do for your career advancement.

Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy has done research into body language and found that we can change other people’s perceptions simply by changing body positions. More importantly, we can change our own body chemistry in the same way.

The power pose of success

The use of the power pose, which is taking up a confident stance even if you don’t feel confident, can raise your testosterone levels and reduce the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your brain.

What is a power pose?

Close your eyes and picture a winner. They stand tall and straight, chin up, eyes wide open and their arms are often opened up. They are proud of themselves and take the space to show it. That’s a power pose.

Now picture the loser. Head drooping, shoulders rounded in defeat and taking up a small physical space. That’s the pose of the defeated.

Try a power pose now.

Stand up and spread your legs wide. Plot your hands on your hips, take a breath and puff your chest out. Notice how you automatically stand straighter and your head is high? Hold that position for a couple of minutes. Now pay attention to how you feel. Good, huh?

It takes less than two minutes for the changes to kick in inside your brain and to affect your confidence. So, a power pose not only reflects power, it also creates it inside you.

Choosing when to use the power pose

The power pose is a position of dominance so it’s not something to use all the time, especially when working as part of a team.

The best time to use the power pose is to even up a power imbalance or to boost your confidence. A good example of this would be when you are being interviewed for a promotion – a power pose makes you look confident and convincing to the authority figures who are interviewing you. Another example would be when you are about to make a presentation and you need more confidence than you are feeling. A power pose kicks your brain into high gear.

Pay attention to the winners around you – the people who are successful within your industry – and study their body language. Spot the way they sit and stand and the way they dominate their space. They aren’t just doing it for the image. They are also doing it to boost their own confidence and self-belief.

Knowing that you can have control over your own body chemistry, how might you use it to boost your own chances of career success?

About the author

SONIA MCDONALD

SONIA MCDONALD

An internationally recognised speaker, entrepreneur, leadership expert, coach and thought leader. Having over 20 years experience in human resource management and organisational development, Sonia shares her leadership wisdom and knowledge in her highly sought after book, Leadership Attitude.

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