Your posture is a vital part of looking and feeling confident. If you’re slumped over and trying to make yourself small, it will affect how you feel and probably even change the way people think about you. But if you’re standing tall, with your body language open and relaxed, it will make you feel and look more confident. That’s why a confident posture is so valuable in overcoming anxiety, fear and lack of confidence. And it’s why you need to learn power poses to help you overcome these problems.
About Amy Cuddy and Power Poses
Power poses are part of an increasingly controversial branch of psychological research first spearheaded by psychologist Amy Cuddy and Dana Carney. The research found that powerful leaders tended to favour specific postures, called power poses. Theses poses made them feel more powerful and also changed their hormonal levels, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, the hormone associated with stress.
There has been a lot of criticism about these ideas from different sources. Most of it was surprisingly unkind and designed to cause the study’s researchers shame and embarrassment. Why this work caused such controversy is up for debate, though many onlookers claim that it was due to the fact that the researchers were both women and that they were competing against ‘ivory towers’ of the academic world. Whether this is true or not, the debate has polarized the academic and the self-development world.
Criticisms of the Idea
The first set of criticisms were based on the study itself. Critics claimed that her study was too small and that the data was manipulated to show the desired result. Further research on the issue also couldn’t replicate the results of the original study, leading to further criticism. And in a final blow, Amy Cuddy’s co-researcher Dana Carney later printed a retraction, saying that she no longer agreed with the results of the study.
The second set of criticisms came from a biological standpoint. To put it quite bluntly, standing the right way is highly unlikely to have an appreciable effect on hormone levels. And even if it did, can tiny hormone changes really make a noticeable difference in how you feel and think? The two hormones in question fluctuate all day every day, without causing major changes unless you have some kind of imbalance. So tiny shifts are unlikely to have the affects claimed.
Another argument came from a different quarter. Cuddy’s work was aimed primarily at women and people from minority groups. Her underlying aim was to increase their sense of power in the workplace and in daily life. This is a noble goal, and it’s one that the whole world needs to strive for. However, it completely ignores obvious gender differences. Women don’t react in the same way to testosterone as men do. So the idea that testosterone would cause the same behavior in women as it does in men ignores this basic fact of biology.
The Benefits of Confident Posture
So now you know the criticisms of this work, and it’s time to think about what power poses can do. Amy Cuddy has struck back with new research that shows that there are definitely positive benefits to powerful postures. The findings were based on 55 studies and found that power poses had significant effects on emotions and affective states. Basically, this means that power poses can make you feel better and adopt a more positive attitude about yourself.
So power poses can’t make you competent at something when you’re not. They probably don’t change your hormone levels. And they aren’t a magic pill that will help you overcome any barrier or problem in your way. All they can do is make you feel better about yourself and about what you can do. But if you struggle with self-confidence, if your self-doubt holds you back from what you want or need to do, this may be enough to get you over the edge.
Power Poses Examples
If you’re looking for a little boost from a power poses, there are several that you can try. These power poses are extremely useful when you’re at work and trying to raise your confidence in a meeting or in front of other people. But you can also use them at home in private to prepare yourself for a big day or event. Either way, these confident postures will help you feel stronger and more in control.
Here are some power pose examples to try:
The ‘Wonder Woman’ pose
Stand up straight, shoulders back, with your hands on your hips. Make sure your feet are planted firmly apart for balance and life your head.
Lean on the desk.
If you’re standing behind a desk, lean forward with your hands on the table top. Make sure your hands are far enough apart for balance and to take up more room.
Sit and relax.
If you’re sitting down, put your hands behind your neck with your elbows out. This opens up your chest area and relaxes you at the same time as it makes you look and feel more powerful.
Whether power poses affect your hormone levels or not, there is one important takeaway from all this research. And that’s the effect that a confident posture can have on your emotions and on your state of mind. It may not make you more effective in meetings. It can’t help you overcome weaknesses or give you skills that you don’t have. But it can change the way you feel about yourself. Basically, it’s a quick and easy way to give yourself a rush of confidence. So when you have an important event coming up and you’re nervous even though you’ve done all the work and are sure that you’re ready, try striking a power pose. It will give you a boost that will make all the hard work you’ve done shine even more.