Do you get nervous before interviews or important meetings? What if we told you that you could change that in just two minutes?
Professor Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and researcher at Harvard Business School. She’s also the creator of one of the most popular TED talks in history – with 27 million views and counting.
Her TED talk looks at body language from a perspective you probably haven’t considered before.
You know that non-verbal communication plays a significant part in how others think and feel about you. But, Amy Cuddy asks, does it also affect how we think and feel about ourselves?
Consider this situation. You’re waiting to go into an interview at one of your favourite not-for-profit organisations. You’re nervous – naturally. And, naturally, those nerves affect your posture and demeanour. You find yourself hunching over, jiggling your leg and rubbing uneasily at your neck. It’s a case of your mind changing your body – and women in particular often shrink in public or stressful situations.
“These postures are associated with powerlessness and intimidation and keep people back from expressing who they really are,” says Cuddy.
That’s why she set out to understand whether the body could change the mind in the same way. She decided to test this out with a series of simple experiments – and the results are remarkable – and have been reproduced in numerous follow-up studies too.
It turns out that just by adopting a simple ‘high-power’ pose for as few as two minutes at a time, you can significantly affect testosterone and cortisol levels in your brain in ways that are vital to performing better in evaluative situations such as interviews.
So what is a high-power pose? It might be raising your arms and head skyward like a victorious sprinter. Or it might be “the Wonder Woman”: standing up straight, your feet in line with your shoulders, shoulders back and your hands on your hips.
Yes, it does sound strange – and it can certainly look pretty silly! But if practised just before a high pressure moment in your life, Amy Cuddy’s research shows that this positive body language will have a marked effect on your confidence and susceptibility to stress – and in turn on how you perform.
So give it a go before your next interview. Arrive a few minutes early and find a private spot – perhaps a corner of a car park or a bathroom stall – and get your power pose on for two minutes!
And don’t forget to check out Amy Cuddy’s full talk – it’s a captivating, sometimes moving talk and well worth a watch even if you’re loving your job at the moment:
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