A few years ago, I watched Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk (now with over 51 million views) where she shares that “power posing” – standing in a powerful position even when we don’t feel that way – can change our mindset and make us feel more confident and capable for whatever it is that we’re about to do. Cuddy’s inspiring personal story impacted me so much that it’s stuck with me all these years later.
Whenever I’m in a situation where I need an extra boost of confidence, I remember her findings that our posture deeply impacts our mental states and the way that others perceive us.
What exactly is the power pose?
It’s chest lifted, head held high, arms either up or propped on the hips. As Cuddy observes:
Both humans and animals express power through their bodies. They tumble in on themselves when they feel unsure, making themselves smaller by hunching over, crossing their arms over their chest and avoiding big movements. When they feel on top of the world, they sprawl out.
She ran experiments to determine whether adopting a more powerful posture would have a tangible effect on participants mental states. Turns out, our bodies really do change our minds. Not only did the power posers make bolder decisions and take risks; there were also physiological changes in their hormones (ie cortisol and testosterone) that led the power posers to actually feel more confident.
How to use power posing to increase confidence.
I use Cuddy’s tips all the time in my own life whenever I need to channel a more confident side of myself. Here are a few scenarios where it helps me out:
When I’m speaking on a stage or need to nail an interview, I’ll actually go into the bathroom for a couple minutes beforehand and stand in my most powerful position, even throwing my arms up overhead (yes I’m serious) to pump myself up.
When I’m feeling nervous before a difficult conversation with a friend, I’ll adjust my posture by lengthening my spine and raising my chin, paired with deep slow breathing to remind my body to calm down.
When I’m feeling low energy before a workout, lifting my chest and opening my shoulders gives me an extra boost of energy, especially if I’ve been slumped over my computer all morning.
When I need to pitch a potential client over the phone, I get up, walk around the office, and actually SMILE – my enthusiasm and energy comes through on the other end of the call.
Do some experimenting to figure out which postures and poses make you feel powerful and confident. It’s one of the most essential tools you can have in your back pocket when you need to remind yourself that, no matter what the day throws at you, YOU GOT THIS.