Thursday, April 15, 2021

How to Feel More Powerful

In the animal kingdom, alphas signal their dominance through body movement and posture. Human beings are no different. The most powerful guy in the room is usually the one whose physical movements are most expansive - legs apart, leaning forward, arms spread wide while he gestures. He's the CEO who isn't afraid to swing his feet up onto the conference room table, hands behind his head and elbows jutting outward, confident in his power to spread himself out however he damn well pleases.

The nervous, powerless person holds himself very differently - he makes himself physically as small as possible: shoulders hunched, feet together, hands in his lap or arms wrapped protectively across his chest. He's the guy in the corner who is hoping he won't be called on, and often is barely noticed.

We adopt these poses unconsciously, and they are perceived (also unconsciously) by others as indictors of our status. But a new set of studies by Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap reveals that the relationship between power and posing works in both directions. In other words, holding powerful poses can actually make you more powerful.

In their studies, posing in "high power" positions not only created psychological and behavioral changes typically associated with powerful people, it created physiological changes characteristic of the powerful as well. High power posers felt more powerful, were more willing to take risks, and experienced significant increases in testosterone along with decreases in cortisol (the body's chemical response to stress.)

If you want more power - not just the appearance of power, but the genuine feeling of power - then spread your limbs wide, stand up straight, and lean into the conversation. Carry yourself like the guy in charge, and in a matter of minutes your body will start to feel it, and you will start to believe it.


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