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Are you making yourself smaller?

November 13, 2013 Sarah Breigle

Harvard professor and TED talk sensation Amy Cuddy is fascinated by our social interactions—and how we make judgments of others. We know that body language is an important element of communication. Amy takes this one step further with her research into social interactions. She shared her fascinating insight recently with attendees at the Women in Leadership Institute.

Spread out and make yourself big

As a culture, we’re obsessed with body language. Our bodies communicate a great deal to the people around us. Tiny changes in body language and certain power poses can radically change our body chemistry and positively affect our career and job performance.

Think about animals. When they are feeling powerful, they spread out. They expand. They pop up. Humans do the same thing. Hands on hips and feet spread, having formal power makes you more likely to stretch out—you feel more entitled to space.

Powerful body language, or “making yourself as big as you can be,” can give you a much better sense of control over your life. Power can disinhibit you, allowing you to be more authentic once you’ve shed your layer of fear.

Eighty percent of yoga poses are “high power” poses. In addition to being popular at work, power-posing techniques are frequently used in athletics, education, anti-bullying, and any situation where you might feel powerless.

Preparatory power posing

All of us have faced stressful situations at work and at home. In the moment, we typically worry more about what we say than how we say it. It turns out that “preparatory power posing” before a stressful situation can lead to a significant, positive physiological change with benefits such as:

  • willingness to take more risks
  • increased likelihood to seek out challenges
  • improved performance in stressful situations

What power pose are you in while reading this blog post? When do you feel most powerful? Tell us in the comments section below.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 1–4, 2022 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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