Power Posing: The Art and Science of Making Posture Work For You

Most of us are familiar with the concept of body language and its effects on our social interactions; for example, greeting a date with open arms and a warm expression says that we're excited for the evening, while a slumped stature and a pout says the opposite. These types of associations refer to what our posture and positioning say to others, but new research shows that the relationship runs in both directions. That is, the way we pose our bodies "speaks" not only to those around us, but to ourselves as well.

Power PosingGuest Blog by John Gower

The good news is that we're able to use this to our advantage at work in a technique known as power posing, a compelling tactic researched by Ann Cuddy which increases our confidence and reduces our stress in critical professional situations. Take a look at the information below for more information about power posing and how you can use it to make every business meeting a successful one.


What Is Power Posing?
'Power posing' is a broad term for a using specific, scientifically studied poses and postures to influence our psychological state. These poses can be done both privately and publicly and have a marked impact on our brain's experience of both stress and our own sense of power; they have this effect largely because of the way we're manipulating our hormones when we employ them.


How Does Power Posing Work?
According to research done by Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy, power posing works by increasing the body's production of one hormone (testosterone) and decreasing its production of another (cortisol). High levels of testosterone are associated with feeling powerful and in control; cortisol is a stress hormone, and in high levels can make us feel anxious.

The key to power posing is to arrange our bodies in postures that will increase the flow of testosterone and tamp down the gush of cortisol we tend to feel in stressful situations. This will cause us to feel more alert, focused, and confident. Interestingly, these same poses will also cause others to perceive us as strong leaders, so power posing works in two key ways to help us succeed at work.


What Can I Expect From Power Posing?
When practiced regularly, power posing can have a powerful influence on both how others see you in the workplace and how you feel about your own expertise.

For example, if you employ a few key power poses before leading an important business meeting, you can expect an almost immediate increase in your ability to communicate clearly, your confidence in your approach to the meeting, and the speed and authority with which you'll be able to respond to tough questions.

On the other hand, if you're the attendee of a critical meeting, using power poses will help your leaders see you as a commanding member of the team. In either scenario, power posing can help you go the distance at work when it matters most.


Ok, I Want To Try Power Posing - How Should I Start?
Amy Cuddy emphasizes that power posing should take two forms, the poses you use privately and the poses you use publicly. In both cases, you want your body to be open and out-front, as opposed to cramped and constricted - this is the key making testosterone and cortisol flow in the directions you want them to.

When you're by yourself and able to be a little more dramatic, try these postures for manipulating your hormones into working to your benefit:

• Stand up, feet apart, and put your hands on your hips. Be sure your back is straight, and puff out our chest slightly. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, and do it a few times before heading into your meeting.
• Sit at your desk, feet firmly planted on the ground. Lean back in your chair (again, you want your chest puffed out a bit) and stretch your arms out to the sides. Again, hold the pose for 20-30 seconds.

When you're around others, be sure to:

• Stand up straight and don't cross your arms - if you have to lean, do so against a chair or table, but don't slump.
• If you must be seated, again be sure you're sitting up straight. Keep your arms open and your chest as wide as possible.


The marvels of modern psychology have revealed important techniques we can use to unlock our confidence and reduce our stress - consider the tips above to use power posing to your best advantage at work and beyond.


About John Gower

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping you save money with tips on everything from psychology to long-term care insurance.

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