Gaining power through better body language

by GK on October 23, 2012

I’ve been busy wearing out my voice during the Giants’ World Series run (woo hoo!), but I’m going to interrupt that for a minute to share a video relating to body language that both educates and inspires.

My friend sent me a recent TED talk featuring social psychologist Amy Cuddy. A quick synopsis is that it makes a scientific case for faking it until you make it with your body language — the importance of which extends to  our social lives, careers and simply how we define ourselves as people.

 

Cuddy’s research found that by simply striking a “power pose” for two minutes, a person could raise his testosterone and lower his cortisol to levels maintained by confident, “alpha” people.  Striking a low-power pose, meanwhile, had the opposite effect and made them less likely to take risks.

The seduction community spends a lot of time on alpha postures, and I’ve seen it taken to comedic levels by amateur pickup artists. But the underlying message is correct. It’s why my mother used to correct my slouching in public, and why I corrected my students’ posture: people judge us almost instantly, and it has far more to do with our body language than the content of our words.

As Anna Draper’s niece told Don in Mad Men, “Nobody knows what’s wrong with them. And everyone else can see it right away.”

There’s also an emotional component to Cuddy’s research, because she herself had to learn how to “fake it” after being discouraged from college when she was in a severe car accident. You’ll see that in the video too.

I like her tweaking the expression to “fake it till you become it,” because it’s a more accurate description of a person’s growth. Rather than consider your “true” self a shrinking violet, why not stick your arms out wide and show the world how you were really a winner all along?

The Japanese expression says it best: “A man is whatever room he is in.” I distinctly remember the room I was in 10 years ago, back when I was first figuring out women (a little). It was an indie-rock dance club, and I was tearing up the floor with three female friends, oblivious to my usual insecurities and having a blast.

During a break in the action, I sat by myself with one of the very power poses shown during this TED talk. A bright-eyed blonde approached me, and I have no doubt that my body language helped trigger that. She ended up being my girlfriend for a year.

Now, if only the Giants can work on their power poses against the Tigers. They’re gonna need the extra testosterone.

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