Many of us would like to be more confident. The US scientist Amy Cuddy has discovered a simple way to achieve this using the right body language!
Incredibly confident, unflappable people who never shy away from challenges do exist! Perhaps you’re thinking it must be innate? There are certainly lots of different types of people: introverts and extraverts, reserved and communicative, timid and brave. But those who have ever observed those with high self-confidence may have noticed that the difference isn’t necessarily in what they say. Nope – they command a room through body language.
Amy Cuddy, the social psychologist from the US also noticed this. She noticed that while many of her MBA students strode directly into the centre of the room, stood tall and commanded attention when they spoke, others fell in on themselves. They hunched their shoulders, make themselves small and hardly dared to step forward. The scientist wondered what could potentially be happening hormonally in people’s bodies, and does positive body language influence hormone balances which might affect self-esteem?
Fake it till you make it
The short answer is yes! But how?
Cuddy found that powerful, self-confident people have high testosterone levels and low levels of cortisol. Translated, that means: a lot of the hormone that increases dominance, and little of the hormone that increases stress. Therefore you feel strong and are stress-resistant.
That wasn’t all that surprising, but what was really interesting was the result of their experiment. Subjects each took two minutes to assume a “powerful post” or a “powerless post”. The result was that the powerful pose increased testosterone levels in the blood, and decreased cortisol levels.
But that wasn’t all. In a further experiment, the subjects were required to take a video-recorded stressful job interview after taking the poses. People who had no background information on the experiment then viewed the videos to choose which people they would hire. They unanimously chose the people who had taken the ‘powerful’ poses, versus those who had taken the ‘powerless’ ones.
Amy Cuddy’s findings give everyone a simple tool by which to strengthen their self-confidence which which to greet difficult or unsettling situations such as a job interview, a presentation or an exam. Her credo is: “Fake it till you make it”. Pretend you’re confident, powerful and dominant until you really are. Change how you feel by changing your body language!