4 Ways to Use Body Language to Win at Work
We’re all familiar with the concept of dressing for the job you want, but what about posing for the job you want? Due in large part to Amy Cuddy’s incredibly popular TED talk, most of us are familiar with the “Wonder Woman” stance and other postures like it designed to make us feel more confident. But, how and when do we strike these poses, and more importantly, do they actually work?
Power posing is using confident body language, even if you don’t feel confident, to make your presence known and to more effectively convey your passion, enthusiasm and authenticity. Or, in the case of not feeling so sure of yourself, faking it till you make it. Power posing has been proven to alter your hormones by increasing testosterone (the dominance hormone) and reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), making it an effective method for literally changing how you feel about yourself.
Recent studies have also revealed that your posture affects your mood and gives you more confidence in your own thoughts. I think it’s safe to say that optimism and confidence are two qualities every #GirlBoss wants up her sleeve while interviewing for a job, asking for a raise or presenting to co-workers.
Given all the potential perks, I decided to test power posing out in my own workplace at a crucial juncture: We’ve just had layoffs at our company and a new department VP started last week. Could something as simple as strategic body language help me keep my job?
Here are four power poses I tried, plus how and when to put them into practice, based on my experience.
1. You’re a Wonder, Wonder Woman Pose
Channel everyone’s favorite superheroine by standing up tall, placing your hands on your hips and standing with your feet hip-width apart. This stance is great for when you’re making small talk with your boss in the breakroom because it’s natural enough to appear confident yet casual while making water cooler chit chat. Think about how you usually stand while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew — probably with your arms crossed, right? Instead, try out this pose to convey your confidence in a relatively understated way. (This pose also has the fringe benefit of making you feel like Beyonce in her Run the World music video — skip to 0:50 to see what I’m talking about).
2. All Business in the Boardroom
Show your coworkers or clients your passion and determination with this deliberate pose. To get into this stance, place your palms on the table and lean forward. This is one of the more intense power poses, so be sure to read the situation and use your best judgement. For instance, this pose probably isn’t ideal for a casual, weekly update meeting, but it could be effective when concluding a presentation or a making sales pitch, both of which are high-pressure situations where it’s crucial to demonstrate that you’re engaged and confident.
3. Laid Back and Loving It
This pose opens up your body language. As you’ve probably noticed, none of these poses involve closed body language like crossed arms, which conveys submission and weakness. To look laid back yet in command, rest your arm on the chair next to you (if it’s empty!) and lean back. You can either keep both your feet on the floor or rest one ankle on your opposite knee. This pose is effective while conducting an interview or running a meeting, allowing you to convey your confidence while running the show. Try this one before attempting #4.
4. Super Chill (With Attitude)
Careful, this pose could be perceived as arrogant or rude (especially if you’re putting your feet on someone else’s desk), so use with caution. If you’re not comfortable with your feet up, plant them on the floor or place one ankle on your opposite knee, then clasp your hands behind your head and lean back (as pictured). This variation opens up your body language to display your confidence without the worry of giving off arrogant vibes. It may also help you avoid the worry of toppling over (so not a power move). Try this pose in a casual setting, such as a pitch meeting or a weekly update meeting.
Initially, I was skeptical about power posing and thought the practice was a bit gimmicky, but I actually felt more confident and less nervous while using my body language to display my confidence. I consciously sat up straight, resisted the urge to fold my arms and channeled my inner #GirlBoss to ensure that my body language mimicked my thorough and prepared presentation. Knowing that I had all my (power) bases covered, I felt calmer and more confident. And yes, still employed.
If you’re skeptical or not feeling confident enough to implement these poses in public, Cuddy says you can reap the benefits of power posing even if you do them privately. A few minutes prior to an important meeting, simply head to a quiet place, such as the restroom or the stairwell. Then pick your favorite power pose and hold it for two minutes to discreetly psych yourself up. Rest assured that you’ll gradually build the confidence to put these poses to use in public over time.
Would you give power posing a try? Let us know which pose makes you feel most confident in the comments below!