Everyone talks about the importance of “body language,” but few people understand how much of an impact it actually has–not just in the way others perceive us, but in terms of how we actually perform.
Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy gave a great presentation at TED last summer about this.
Certain “power poses” don’t just change how others perceive you, Professor Cuddy says. They immediately change your body chemistry.
And these changes affect the way you do your job and interact with other people.
Professor Cuddy concluded her talk with a startling revelation about herself, one that led her to choke up momentarily. Then the talk ended in a standing ovation.
The full video (21 minutes) is available here and at the end of the slides.
I’ve pulled together Professor Cuddy’s key points below.
Small gestures reveal glimpses of character and shape perceptions about how people are perceived. Here, President Obama shakes the hand of a British policeman while entering the Prime Minister's house on Downing Street.
Seconds later, the Prime Minister disses the same policeman. British media ran the clip and ridiculed the Prime Minister for weeks.
In low power situations, meanwhile, when people or animals are feeling feeble and helpless, they close up.
Researchers already know that nonverbal communication affects how others perceive you and feel about you. For example, a 1-second glimpse of a candidate's face allows people to predict the winner of 70% of Senate and Gubernatorial races.
Then, the researchers tested the subjects' risk tolerance and body chemistry. The results were shocking.
Absolutely not! It would seem offensive, presumptive, and rude to your interviewer, regardless of how it made you feel.
At this point in the talk, Professor Cuddy revealed something about herself. At age 19, she was gravely injured in a car accident. She woke up in a head-trauma ward and was told that her IQ had dropped by two standard deviations. She was told she would never make it through college.
She decided not to quit. She worked and worked. It took her four years longer than the rest of her class to graduate. But she graduated. Then she somehow managed to persuade someone at Princeton to accept her into grad school.
She felt like an imposter. The first day at Princeton, she realised what she was up against, and she told her advisor she wanted to quit. Her advisor wouldn't let her. The advisor said, effectively, you're going to fake it until you make it--no matter how much it scares you.
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