Stand up straight and why it matters

Presence, bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges” by Amy Cuddy

Do you feel happy because you smile or do you smile because you’re happy?

According to Havard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy, who had a very successful 2012 TED Talk and now a book to further explore some game changing research insights, the body shapes the mind.

I highly recommend both reading the book as well as watching the TED Talk. In the TED talk she showed visuals emphasising some of the power moves realistically.

In one of her first experiments, she recruited 200 subjects online and prompted them to imagine themselves holding either a high-power or low-power pose for 2 minutes. Then she instructed them to picture strangers walking in and out of the room as they were holding the pose and form impressions of these strangers.

Among the people who’d imagined themselves holding high power poses, 70 percent used words such as:

Open and strong
Grounded and confident

Those who imagined themselves in low power poses had a much less pleasant experience: 72% used words as

Awkward and tense
Scared and lonely
Very very uncomfortable

Here, Professor Cuddy makes a case for feeling powerful.

Feeling powerless impairs thoughts
Powerlessness makes us self-absorbed

Power can protect us
Power can connect us
Power can incite action

image

These are my fingers.

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I find these low power poses very familiar. Guilty as charged. Will stop myself from doing this.

As for the high power poses, while I can accept how they may improve a person’s confidence, how do you think it’ll be accepted by others in the room?

I showed this page to a few Asian working adults and the high power poses didn’t go down too well in our social context.

If you come to Asia, and put your feet on the table, never mind that we no longer believe in table gods, but it’s very threatening and disrespectful. Very rarely do you find bosses putting their feet on the table.

I once saw a photo of President Obama putting his elegant long legs on the table ofthe Oval Office in the presence of some aides and realised that in the US, this must be totally acceptable.

This is a great book with many interesting insights especially in contexts where bullying, gender differences and even during interviews where non-spoken gestures affect what is communicated.

Next time you feel powerless or anxious before an interview or an exam, do a power pose in your room or at least in your mind. Imagine yourself in a power pose.

Starfish up! Mind your posture throughout the day!

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