You have probably heard of “power pose” or “fake it ‘til you become it: the practice of assuming a deliberate pose (usually arms stretched out and chest puffed) in order to assume confidence for an upcoming event (such as a meeting, a speech, or asking a guy out).
The importance of body language blasted into public awareness in 2012 with Amy Cuddy’s seminal TED Talk. A social psychologist, Cuddy studies non-verbal behavior and talks about how body movement and position affects mental function and emotion, calling it a “two minute life hack.” The gist is that changing our bodies changes our minds. If our bodies act powerful, our brains feel more powerful and we can improve our stress response and how we perform in stressful situations.
For women, the concept of the power pose is incredibly important. Body language has been excessively studied in how it communicates information to others—in situations such as first impressions or job interviews. A strong pose—a power pose—can therefore communicate competency and confidence both to yourself and others. The importance of the power pose is different: it is “you talking to yourself,” as Cuddy says. Before a stressful situation, strutting like Queen B or standing like Wonder Woman in preparation for a stressful situation helps you cope with the stress and perform better. As a mindfulness practice (“Power posing is the physical answer to mindfulness” says Cuddy), think of power pose like meditation. It is a conscious recalibration of your body language to reflect how you want to feel throughout the day.
There are scientific hesitations to whether or not power pose only works in certain situations, however, the overall goal of lowering stress and confirming your own legitimacy can be accomplished by practicing power pose. There are many iterations of power pose that are promoted for certain situations. The choices and advice can be confusing and being over-conscious of your body during a stressful situation may not actually help. Takeaways from all the studies and attempts to apply power pose comes down to Cuddy’s original findings: changing your body language can affect the testosterone (power) and cortisol (stress) hormone levels in your body.
Getting into the zone—talking yourself up, listening to a pump up song, chanting “yes I can”—before an interview, a date, or a speech should now include a physical reflection of power. It might just work better than any other attempt to prepare yourself.
So, what’s your power pose?