Posture: Behavioral Tool in “Becoming” How YOU Deal with Stress

Amy Cuddy, Harvard researcher on Body Language reviews research and anecdotes that reveal how ‘Power Poses’ can alter not only how others perceive us – but more importantly – HOW WE EXPERIENCE stressful evaluative situations.  I’ve often spoken to the relationship between neurotransmitters and the sequence of how feelings – emotions – moods – attitudes – and BEHAVIOR link together.  Cuddy’s research using measured testosterone and cortisol levels illustrates how these can be personally manipulated by adopting certain poses (either powerful or submissive) and what personal and professional impact these can have on our lives.

Although the research in and of itself is compelling, Cuddy’s personal experience makes it convincing with a story that illustrates why “Faking it until you BECOME it” carries a whole new meaning for each and every one of us.  Cuddy’s TED TV Talk recorded earlier this month is well worth the time spent integrating the information and application for hundreds of situations we are likely to experience throughout our professional and personal lives.

Check it out:

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These findings are important for anyone pursuing personal goals and wants to experience a more powerful and competency-based existence.  There is no substitute for actual preparation, but for many even when they prepare they feel their performance was less than what it could have been.  This information suggests that there is clear evidence that assuming a “powerful posture for two minutes” BEFORE any challenge we’ve been preparing for puts our minds and bodies into an optimal state for performance.  The ‘behavioral’ shift engaged in a power position helps us focus and effectively reduce the stress hormones normally triggered in such a situation.  It makes sense for us to “plan” a visit to the bathroom mirror right before that tough job interview, a presentation in an important class, a competition you’ve been training for.  Give that 2 minute POWER POSTURE a try, and you will feel better and perform your best.

Amy Cuddy is an Associate Professor at the Harvard Business School.