We all know about the importance of body language. You may have heard that stat that people make judgments about each other within two seconds of meeting.
Before an interview, or a big presentation, this knowledge can translate to a lot of last-minute primping: Are any buttons undone? Is my hair frizzing? Do I have salad in my teeth? Are there any facts I should go over again?
Well, it turns out that we’re going about our preparations in the wrong way. According to recent research from Harvard and Columbia, the secret to doing well isn’t in a perfectly formatted résumé or well-rehearsed responses: It’s all about posing.
You heard us right. Posing—literally, holding our bodies in certain ways—has serious effects on our confidence, charisma and the way people react to us. Find out exactly what the study revealed and the two-minute power poses you should be doing to succeed (no yoga mats necessary).
Social psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Business School Amy Cuddy realized that men in the MBA program were getting better grades than their female peers, even though the women were just as qualified. She noticed that men were contributing more in classes, and since class participation makes up 50% of the grading, she wondered why the women would be so reticent.
Cuddy found that the men in the class were taking up a lot of physical space, often spreading their legs wide apart when seated or holding their arms behind their heads. The women, in contrast, would make themselves as small as physically possible: holding their wrists with their hands, crossing their arms and their legs, and touching their faces and necks with their hands.
The men’s physical behavior mimicked the “power postures” taken by dominant animals in other species, like alpha male primates pushing out their chests or peacocks spreading their feathers. In primates, these power postures signal high levels of testosterone (linked to confidence, dominance and aggressiveness) and low levels of cortisol (linked to stress). This balance of hormones is found in people who are perceived as “natural leaders.”
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