It’s been well publicized that your body language can have a remarkable impact on the way people respond to you. More importantly, there is growing sentiment that your body language changes the way YOU respond to you.
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know I use the word intuition quite a bit. I believe strongly that we can learn much from our gut if we learn to trust it.
Armed with that information, I’m going to ask you a question. Who do you think is better prepared for their impending workout, the man or woman walking into the gym with shoulders back and chin up, or the one slumped down and staring at the floor?
Now, what if I told you that not only would you perceive that person as stronger, but that your perception would be reality?
Here’s the science:
Social scientist Amy Cuddy has researched the topic from multiple angles. She’s written and lectured on the topic and has one of the most popular TED talks on the web today.
Amy Cuddy shares an easy way that anyone can change not only others’ perceptions of them, but the way they feel about themselves — spending two minutes “power posing” with their arms or elbows out, their chin lifted and their posture expansive. Cuddy’s research, done in collaboration with Dana Carney, has shown that adopting the body language associated with dominance for just 120 seconds is enough to create a 20 percent increase in testosterone and a 25 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. In other words, adopting these postures makes a person feel more powerful.
A 20 percent increase in testosterone? Isn’t this what athletes gamble their careers trying to achieve? I once asked a pitcher teammate what it was like to be on steroids. He said “Kap, it’s like being ten feet tall and bulletproof.” I’ve never met a man who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to increase their levels without the use of drugs.
On a plane ride in 2002, while with the Colorodo Rockies, Larry Walker held court and shared with me the importance of standing on deck with a specific posture. “Kap,” he said. “When I’m in that circle, I’m standing with my shoulders back, staring at the pitcher in a position of power. I want to make eye contact with him. I want him to know how confident I am.”
Walker knew what he was doing, but I wonder if he associated the feeling he had with an actual change in hormone production.
This boost of testosterone isn’t just useful for male athletes. Testosterone is linked to feelings of confidence, self-assurance and power. Imagine the power of a quick boost right before a job interview or important meeting.
I remember Walk standing tall and being imposing, but I always chalked it up to his physical size. Given this research, I can go back and put the puzzle pieces together. His was a calculated power posture.
It wasn’t just on the field that he displayed this body language. When he walked into a room, people took notice. Larry took up space.
From Body Language University:
By inflating his chest, widening his shoulders, putting his hands on his hips, and/or spreading his feet apart when standing, he’s attempting to appear larger
In appearing larger, he felt larger. In feeling larger, he felt powerful and in control.
Taking up space is also about “opening up”, according to Cuddy. She suggests that we ourselves are the most influenced by our own body language.
We are influenced by our non-verbals. We do this when we have power chronically and when we’re feeling powerful in the moment.
We can teach ourselves to feel more powerful thereby creating confidence when performing activities like lifting weights. Feeling powerful lends itself nicely to making good decisions around nutrition and lifestyle. We lose our willpower when we are feeling weak or out of control.
In order to teach ourselves this power, we should emulate Larry Walker. Before a presentation, a big lift or athletic competition, Cuddy suggests power posing in the mirror for two full minutes to inspire this increase in testosterone and decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone. Lower stress equals better health.
One power pose I’ve been toying with is hands on hips, shoulders back, chest out, feet spread apart. I’ll be the guinea pig on this one and report back to you. Given my inevitable large increase in testosterone, I should be making a comeback at this time next year.
Cheers to powerful body language,