Fake it until you make it

strong_poseOur minds can change our bodies but can our bodies change our minds? Can “high-power” poses change your life in meaningful ways? A key trait to being a great leader or a star performer is confidence. People tend to focus on what they are saying with their words when in reality how they are communicating with their body is just as important. If you slouch or hang your head down, for instance, people view this as a lack of confidence and you will begin to lose their trust and respect. If you are not a naturally confident or assertive person, research shows that it is may be possible to become so by “faking it until you make it.” Harvard Business School professors Amy J.C. Cuddy and Dana R. Carney along with Andy J. Yap of Columbia University conducted an experiment in which 42 male and female participants were randomly assigned to a high or low power pose group. Subjects in the high-power group were told to sit in two poses for one minute each. One with their feet on a desk and hands behind their head, then standing with their hands leaning over a desk. Those in the low-power pose group sat in a chair with their arms wrapped around their chest and their legs tightly crossed. Saliva samples from both groups were taken before and after the participants did the poses, in order to measure testosterone and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. The saliva samples concluded that the high-power poses decreased cortisol by 25 percent and increased testosterone by 19 percent for both the men and women. The low-power poses increased cortisol by 17 percent and decreased testosterone by 10 percent. High levels of testosterone can lead to increased feelings of power and a greater tolerance for risk whereas low cortisol levels can cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension and memory loss. The participants weren’t told any details about the study. However, when asked how they felt after the high-power poses, both sexes reported feeling powerful and in charge. The poses used in the experiment are associated with the animal kingdom for very straightforward evolutionary reasons. You want to be big because you’re in charge or you want to close in and protect your vital organs because you’re not. It’s not hard to duplicate this effect. Stand with your hands on your hips or your arms spread out in a “v” shape. Hold the pose for two minutes every day, maybe throw in a personal mantra. How do you feel after a week? Month? Year? Walk around at work with your head held high and do not cross your arms over your chest. Eventually people will treat you with more respect because you will appear confident and powerful. Before long the positive reinforcement will rub off and you will not only believe that you’re confident but actually become more confident. It all comes down to confidence, first fake it so that others believe it, and eventually you will believe it too. Confidence is one of the traits we often see in star performers. To learn about the others, I urge you obtain a copy of our awarding winning book “The Star Factor” today. Learn more here. Source: HBS Working Knowledge]]>

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