You know how people say that the simple act of smiling when you’re in a bad mood can make you feel better? Well, apparently there’s a similar theory that can be applied to success at work.
According to Fins.com, a recent study conducted by researchers from Columbia and Harvard universities found that our body language has a lot to do with how powerful and in control of a situation we feel, both psychologically and physiologically.
The study, called “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance,” found that subjects who exhibited “dominant” body language — like putting their feet up on a desk while leaning back in a chair, or spreading their hands wide and leaning forward on a table — for just one minute experienced a spike in testosterone, the hormone responsible for increased risk tolerance and feelings of power. The so-called “power poses” also decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
On the contrary, those who posed in positions considered to be passive experienced a slight spike in cortisol, and — in a test that followed the one-minute pose — these subjects were also less inclined to risk their money in a gamble.
The study tested both men and women, and similar results were found in each group.
While the application of this study to the workplace is not exactly literal (i.e., the next time you want a raise, you should not go into your boss’s office and exert your dominance by leaning back in your chair and kicking your feet up on her desk) there are some messages that can be applied to your career:
Don’t be afraid to take up space: The poses considered by the study to be “high power” are classified as such because they are open and extroverted. They require you to take up space, which is a natural way that both humans and animals establish dominance — think peacocks spreading their feathers, or bullfrogs puffing out their chests.
To get your own testosterone pumping, subtly make your pose more powerful by:
- Standing with your hands on your hips
- Putting an arm on each armrest when sitting, instead of crossing them
- Standing up straight
- Taking a slightly wider stance during presentations or when speaking to a group
- Leaning in slightly when sitting around a table with a group
Fake it till you make it: “Fake it till you make it” usually means that you should put on confident airs even when you’re shaking like a leaf. But, in light of this new study, it seems that you can also trick yourself into believing your false confidence. Next time you’re nervous at a job interview or in a meeting, assume a power pose, and the drop in cortisol levels could cause your nerves to subside.
What do you think about power posing? Is it something you’d try? Tell us in the comments section.
For more on workplace confidence, check out: