A few months ago, I watched a TED Talk all about posture. The speaker was social psychologist Amy Cuddy who talked about confidence building and the impact that your body language can have on you. Nothing new there. But a few months later, I’ve still been thinking about it and noticing how true it is for me (not in a good way!).
There’s a big difference between powerful body language and how some people (particularly women) tend make themselves smaller in order to protect themselves. I know that I do this a lot. It’s not always conciously, sometimes my arms are crossed because I’m just plain cold. Sometimes, I’ve put on a top that is actually quite a bit smaller than I remembered and I’m desperately trying to conceal what I strongly suspect is my bra showing through. But most of the time, it’s just my natural reaction to cross my legs, wrap my arms across me and sit tight. I do it when I’m comfortable and I do it when I feel threatened.
In contrast, others may make a beeline for the centre of the room, spread their legs out (boys!!), throw their arms about and generally take up their surroundings with their presence. This confident, alpha behaviour is called power posing and tends to get noticed.
The problem with the way you sit or stand not only affects how others see you but also how confident you feel, which in certain situations can have a genuine impact on the choices you make and the opportunities you get offered. Amy suggests that understanding your own body language and knowing a 2 minute trick to build your confidence can change the way you think and feel. All you have to do is go get your power pose on! Find somewhere quiet and throw your arms in the air for a couple of minutes. Make yourself bigger and feeling more powerful will gradually follow. And if it’s good enough for Oprah…!
If I’m going into a scary situation I tend to calm myself down by breathing slowly. Maybe next time I should be breathing slowly whilst stood in a star position? I found this video interesting (and useful) but be warned, once you’ve watched it you’ll find yourself assessing your body language at several random points a day.
Do you ever notice making yourself smaller in certain situations? Or are you already a power poser? And yes, I did go and stand in a park with my arms in the air, looking like a nutter, just so I had a photo for this post!