The way you carry yourself at work can have dramatic consequences for those around you. A mere shoulder shrug could make you go from leader to passive follower. Wall Street Journal reports that new research indicates wielding strong body language has the ability to change a person’s hormones and consequently their behavior as if they held actual power. Individuals don’t need to be allied with superhero status to gain others’ attention: they can just stand like one.
According to research, power poses can lower cortisol levels and lead to an increase in testosterone. Even if you don’t stay in that position for long, the hormone changes will still take effect. 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.”
According to a study conducted by Amy J.C. Cuddy, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, power poses are linked to better performance and can actually help you get the job you want if done right before an interview. (Watch Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk on power poses here.) Cuddy affirms that not only does power posing bolster people’s ability to withstand risk and pain, but also their capacity for abstract thinking.
If you want to make an impact at work now, here are five power poses you can start practicing.
- Stand up.
When you’re giving a presentation, always stand. It’s more dominant than sitting power pose, and commands attention and respect.
- Stand up and lean over the table.
Women often have to find other ways to convey power in the workplace because they don’t have a height advantage as many men do. Just as birds look more powerful when they stretch their wings, you can take up more space to exude confidence. Women are often taught to take up as little space as possible when sitting down, but you should really do the opposite.
- Sit with your arm spread out around the chair next to you.
Even if you’re seated, make sure to take up as much space as possible. Research has shown that this conveys power and confidence.
- Stay in a power stance even when no one can see you.
If you find yourself struggling through a phone call or pouring your heart out into an email, take a break to do some power stances. They’ll invigorate you and make you feel more capable. On top of that, standing up is better for your health in general and will help keep you alert.
- 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 authored an article 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.”
If you often do power poses at work, let us know in the comments section below!
Come to Levo co-founder Caroline Ghosn’s talk on the importance of body language when networking!
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