Do you ever feel like an imposter to the point where the idea of speaking in a public forum is terrifying? I definitely felt that way earlier in my career. Over time, I overcame my fear by being fully present and sharing my best self – even when I am in the presence of hundreds. But I always wondered how I rose above this obstacle. Is it all in my mind? Or is there something more to it?
At the time, I didn’t know that there is actually a science behind all this. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, “Our bodies can change our mind, our mind can change our behavior, and or behavior can change our outcomes.”
As associate professor at Harvard Business School, Cuddy conducted research on personality traits and how they create different outcomes in areas such as getting hired and taking risks. And needless to say, her research fascinated me. So when my employer, SAP, invited Cuddy to SAP Silicon Valley to give her renowned Power Pose TED talk, I knew I had to come and soak in every last word.
Power pose: Understand it. Achieve it. Live it.
Cuddy describes a power pose as positioning one’s body in order to influence others and possibly even one’s own mind. According to her research, there are five things you must do to achieve power pose:
- If you act powerfully, you will think powerfully. Powerlessness activates inhibition. By acting powerfully, you:
1. See opportunities not threats
2. Feel confident and optimistic
3. Promote, not prevent
4. Present your authentic self
5. Use body language that doesn’t only speak to others, but also speaks to you
- Do not fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it. By adopting power posing, you can trick yourself into feeling powerful. Once you begin to feel the changes working of power pose, you will become a more powerful person.
- Focus on being in the present. It is important not to focus on the outcome. Focus on the present moment that will lead you to the outcome. Be confident without having arrogance. Be open to feedback. Have synchrony with your words. People can always tell when you are lying. When lying our bodies cannot keep up and it does not match with our nonverbal behavior. It becomes very obvious. In the words of Walt Whitman, “We convince people by our presence.”
- A tiny tweak can mean big changes. Holding a power pose for two minutes can make a huge difference. Make yourself feel loose, relaxed, and open. Holding your hands in the air above your head is a very popular power pose. Pull your shoulders back, do not wrap your arms around yourself. Keep your arms open and sit or stand up straight. Do not hunch or make yourself small. Think about the Alpha male in the animal kingdom or of Superwoman with her hands at her hips in a strong pose.
- Believe in your story and others will too. With the confidence gained from a powerful power pose and posture, you form a confident mind as well. Tell your story with confidence, passion and from the heart then you will truly inspire others. When you believe in yourself and show your belief then others will believe in you too.
Now, I challenge you to do a power pose before a next big presentation or interview so you can feel the difference too! Lastly, give the science away! Let others know the amazing benefits of power posing and the impact body language can have not only on others but on yourself as well. #powerpose.