Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy: Profile of a Body-Language Hacker (Including Top 10 Tips)

Professor Amy J. C. Cuddy leading expert regarding body-language.

She is the Hellman Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School’s unit of Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit.

Cuddy also holds a BA (Social Psychology) from the University of Colorado and a PhD (Psychology) from Princeton University.

Before she joined HBS, she worked as an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University (the Kellogg School of Management) where she taught Research Methods at the doctoral programme and Leadership in Organizations within the MBA programme.

She also has experience teaching Social Psychology at Rutgers University.

More specifically, her most recent expertise comes from teaching MBA courses on the psychology of negotiation, power and persuasion. She has also acted as a mentor in various executive education programmes.

Cuddy has also delved in the literary world, having authored “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges“. The book has been hailed globally and is a New York Times bestseller.

The good professor studied the outcomes and origin of how we are influenced by and how we perceive other people. During these studies, she investigated the roles of such variables as hormones, nonverbal behaviours, emotions, and stereotypes.

More particularly, her research on stereotyping focused on various social categories (working mothers, Latinos, elderly people, Asian Americans etc.) – and how people within these categories are judged by their own members and by others.

Cuddy also studied how these judgements tend to set the content and tone of most social interactions – including but not limited to discrimination and prejudice.

Along with Peter Glick from Lawrence University and Princeton’s Susan Fiske, Cuddy developed the SCM (Stereotype Content Model) and the BIAS (Behaviors from Intergroup Affect and Emotions) Map. These two focus on judgements of groups and of other people along 2 common core strait dimensions – competence and warmth – as well as how these judgements motivate and shape our social behaviours, intentions, and emotions.

Amy Cuddy: Profile of a Body-Language Hacker (Including Top 10 Tips)

Cuddy’s research with UC-Berkeley’s Dana Carney is focused on how various nonverbal expressions of power (space-occupying, open and expansive postures) affect people’s hormone levels, behaviours, and feelings.

More particularly, her research goes to show that even the fake it till you make it body postures that are typically associated with power and dominance will decrease people’s cortisol, increase their testosterone and appetite for risk, and cause them to perform better at job interviews.

In short, according to Cuddy’s research, if you are able to act powerfully and adopt various power poses, you will start thinking powerfully.

Ultimately, the research suggests that when people feel powerful on a personal level, they tend to become better connected with their feelings and thoughts, become more present, and are able to connect better with the feelings and thoughts of others around them.

Therefore, when presence is characterised by engagement, confidence, enthusiasm, and the ability to connect with and captivate an audience, one will be able to boost their performance in various domains in the social world.

Cuddy’s research has been so significant that it has been published in a number of academic journals, including but not limited to:

  • The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
  • Trends in Cognitive Sciences
  • Psychological Science
  • Research in Organizational Behavior
  • Advances in Experimental Social Psychology
  • Science

She has also won several awards, such as:

  • The Alexander Early Career Award (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues)
  • A Rising Star Award (Association for Psychological Science)
  • Top 10 Psychology Studies of 2010 (Psychology Today)

Cuddy’s influence has been so significant that she has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, TIME, The Financial Times, The New York Times, MSNBC, and CNN.

Top 10 tips on body-language, power poses, and Ted Talk summary:

Confidence is key if you are to be successful. Whether you are looking to win a freelance contract, land your dream job and meet a new partner, you need to make a great impression on people.

According to Cuddy, your body language will make a great difference both in your own performance and in how people will perceive your confidence. Consider the following tips to improve your personal presence with various power poses:

1. Breathing:

Cuddy suggests that you need to slow your breathing when you are with other people. By so doing, you will be able to slow your heart rate.

Once this happens, you will start feeling more relaxed and centered – which will improve your body language.

2. Eye Contact:

Whenever you are in the presence of other people, try as much as you can to hold eye contact.

Your ability to do this will calmly convey greater confidence even if you don’t feel it. However, you should also ensure you are not fidgety and you don’t come off looking nervous.

3. Mistakes:

Always admit your mistakes. Confident and strong people own up to theirs, so why shouldn’t you.

The sooner you are able to admit your mistakes and provide plans to correct them, the greater the level of confidence you will be able to convey.

4. Truth:

Respectful debate and disagreement are the cornerstones of successful collaborations. Unless you were hired to do various tasks, you need to understand that you are paid for your contributions and insights (including your contrarian positions).

Therefore, speak your truth – it will get more people respecting and valuing you.

5. Flaws:

Antique dealers usually point out the flaws and scratches in old furniture pieces. Although it might seem like being honest, it’s actually a strategic move.

By being transparent with your flaws, people are more likely to trust you. Confidently own your limitations and people will trust your strengths.

6. Body Language:

Before walking into any social or professional meeting, loosen your shoulders, neck and jaws. This will decrease your anxiety while simultaneously raising your confidence.

It works because our emotions physiologically respond to changes in the physical state of our bodies.

7. Fidgeting:

Bouncing your foot, swivelling in your chair, and tapping on the table are unconscious nervous habits that will give away the fact that you are nervous. Not only that, but they will also amplify your anxiety.

If you catch yourself fidgeting, loosen your body and check your breath and you should feel better.

8. Smiling:

Smiling will make you happier – so, why shouldn’t you do it more frequently? When you smile at meetings, for instance, people will think that you are empowered, excited, or kind.

Additionally, it will work in your favor when they also perceive your personal power and self-confidence.

9. Emails:

Brevity, as Oscar Wilde put it, is the soul of wit. It also conveys great confidence and honesty. More particularly, we tend to ramble on and on when we are not sure about what we are saying.

If you are 100% certain about something, you should be able to jot down an email in the fewest words possible.

10. Listening:

When listening, ensure you are active about it. Where required, convey sympathy.

The most confident among us listen and demonstrate that they are getting what is being said.

Less confident and nervous people, on the other hand, tune out of conversations to start planning what they should say next.

So, there you have it – the top ten tips on body language and power pose from Amy Cuddy. Her work speaks for itself.



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