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Fake it to Change it: A Guide to Converting Your Own Mind with Body Language

How can your own body language change the things you say to yourself and believe about yourself?

Body language, or non-verbal communication, is all the rage. Professionals and weekend watchers alike are analysing what others are doing with their bodies to reach conclusions that override what mouths are saying.

As a woman in business, you’re more likely to not only observe, but correctly identify what others are saying with their body language. You are also more cognisant of what your own body posture is saying to others. This innate ability has been handed down to you from your ancestors, and these superb communications skills will serve you as you interact with others.

But how about as you interact with yourself? How can your own body language change the things you say to yourself and believe about yourself?

The Research

Social psychologist and professor/researcher at Harvard Business School Amy Cuddy has discovered that not only will our minds change what we believe ourselves with the use of positive, powerful body language, our hormonal chemistries will change, for the better.

Here’s what she found:

Participants in a study were asked to adopt either powerful or powerless body postures for just two minutes. Their emotions didn’t have to match what their bodies were saying…they could simply “fake” those poses.

Here’s what happened:

  • Those displaying powerful body language were 16% more likely to gamble, had 20% higher testosterone levels and 25% lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
  • Those displaying powerless body language had testosterone levels that were 10% lower and cortisol level that shot up 15%.

Now remember, these people were not qualified before the study as feeling powerful or powerless…and they were not separated based on gender or personality types. All of these results were realised after just two minutes of exercising specific body language.

This is exciting news. It tells us that we have the power to change our feelings of confidence, dominance, power and aptitude, just by changing the ways in which our bodies are positioned.

Powerful and Non-Powerful Body Language

Here are some examples of powerful and non-powerful non-verbals:

Powerful Body Language: Standing with feet in a wide stance; arms high and wide, opening the torso; head and chin high; elevated gaze; chest inflated. Seated with legs open, or legs in a “T” position (one ankle on the other knee).

Weak Body Language: Standing with feet crossed or close together; arms crossed over the chest; shoulders hunched; head down; low gaze; hands clasped together or covering the throat; sitting with legs tightly crossed.

Using Powerful Body Language in Business

You can easily apply this powerful body language, and the exercise modelled after Professor Cuddy’s study, to your business life.

If you have an interview, a presentation, or a job interview coming up, commit to arriving a few minutes earlier than you normally would and spend two minutes in the restroom stall practicing some of these power poses. And then, before the actual event—in the lobby, or whilst mingling with attendees—continue this confident body language.

Your testosterone (power hormone) will increase and your cortisol (stress hormone) will decrease. You will feel stronger and more capable.

And the best news? This exercise isn’t just for immediate gratification in situations where you need to feel more powerful. You can adopt powerful body language for everyday use, to keep your hormone levels and self-belief optimal, so you’re ready for whatever may come your way today, tomorrow and along your path to ultimate success.

Do you have a story to share about how powerful body language increased your self-confidence and overall success? Have an opinion, advice or comment? Please share it with me below.

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