The way you stand in the workplace can make a huge impact on those around you. A shoulder shrug can literally make you go from leader to passive follower. According to The Wall Street Journal, new research shows that using powerful body language can actually change a person’s hormones and behavior, just as if she had real power. You don’t have to be a superhero to command attention: you just have to stand like one.
Research found that power poses can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and lead to an increase in testosterone. Even if you move out of that position, the hormone changes will linger. Executive coach Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt—How You Lead ($15, amazon.com), told Levo, “Remember that status and authority are nonverbally demonstrated through height and space. So stand tall, pull your shoulders back, widen your stance, and hold your head high.”
[Learn: Communicate With Confidence]
Power poses are also linked to better performance, research found. Standing in a power pose for a few minutes before an interview can literally help you get the job, according to a study led by Amy J.C. Cuddy, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. (Watch Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk on power poses here.) According to Cuddy, power posing also increases people’s tolerance for risk and pain, and their ability to think abstractly.
So how can you start making this kind of impact at work now? Here are five simple power poses you can start practicing now.
1. Stand up.
If you’re leading a presentation, simply stand up. Sitting down is passive. Standing up commands attention and respect.
2. Stand up and lean over the table.
Just like birds make themselves bigger and more powerful by spreading their wings, you, too, can convey more power if you take up more space. Most women, especially if they work with a lot of men, don’t have a height advantage, so you have to use space in other ways. Women often condense themselves when sitting down and take up as little space as possible, but you really need to do the opposite.
3. Sit with your arm spread out around the chair next to you.
Even if you’re sitting, then you still need to try to make yourself as big as possible. According to research, this move shows power and dominance.
4. Stay in a power stance even when no one can see you.
If you’re on a tough phone call or writing a really big email, practice your power stances. They’ll make you feel stronger. Plus, standing is literally better for your body and can make you more alert.
5. Pretend you’re Wonder Woman.
Standing with your feet apart and your hands on your hips may feel odd at first, but this is a power pose in its essence. Beyoncé does it, Christine Lagarde does it, and Oprah does it. Cuddy wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog, “This isn’t about what your body language is communicating to others; it’s about what your body language is communicating to you: Your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behavior, which changes your outcomes.”
Do you regularly practice power poses at work? Tell us in the comments!
Ask Levo co-founder Caroline Ghosn about the importance of body language when you are networking!
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