A person can determine your attitude from across the room, read your mind by your facial expressions, and come to a personal opinion of you within seven seconds. The power of nonverbal communication is one that when understood and wield in the right manner, can make the difference between success and failure.
In her Ted Talk titled “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are”, Amy Cuddy explains the significants body language can have on not only how others perceive you, but perhaps more importantly, how you perceive yourself.
Through several studies, Amy has proven that how one percent themselves influences their feelings, thoughts, and physiology.
In one such study, volunteers were split into two separate groups. The first group stood for two minutes in a confident, dominate pose while the other group stood in a more hidden and protective pose. The results were outstanding. The confidently posed group’s testosterone levels (the confident hormone) increased by 20% while their cortisol levels (the stress hormone) decreased by 10%. The hidden group’s testosterone levels decreased by 25%, while their cortisol levels increased by 15%. All of this in only 2 minutes.
Amy has performed simulator studies in both classrooms with students and in the work field observing interview processes. The results were the same in each atmosphere. Those who were more successful and rose to positions of leadership were those who presented themselves with confident body language.
I can personally attest to this being true.
In High School my sister and I got a wild hair to try debate. We had no coach, no experience, no idea how to run a case, and only two weeks to prepare. Our game plan was to fake it until we made it. Short and simple.
We both walked into that compaction room, with our (cough, empty) briefcases and files, like we were that years’ debate champions. By the end of the tournament, we had no trophies to boast, but we defiantly had learned a lot. The real surprise was that no one thought that this was our first time debating. We even got compliments on our confidence and cool approach to speaking, which must have been acquired over many years.
With these facts and my testimony, you might just be wondering what this body language looks like and how you can apply it to your everyday life.
The truth is that there are no cement rules to body language, simple guidelines. If you wish to appear confident then open yourself up. The willingness to take chances is the outcome of confidence and therefore appearing as if you are putting yourself out there for any situation that may come will show your eagerness to face that next challenge, even if inside you’re scared to death. The opposite is also true. If you pose in a hidden and protective position you will appear unconfined and timid, signaling that you are unprepared for any obstacle or opportunity that presents itself.
Examples of these positions would be the “winners” pose; arms out and above your head with chin slightly lifted; or the “pout”; arms crossed and head or eyes downcast.
Next time you are going into a test, interview, or experiencing a stressful day at work, try slipping away for a few moments to make a “winners” pose in the bathroom stalls. As a result of this forced body language signal, you will be better prepared to have that confidence and show it through your nonverbal communication. You might just find out that you can say a lot to others and yourself without saying a thing.