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The Power Pose

Just this past week I was watching the show “Grey’s Anatomy” – an American medical soap opera. The particular scene that really caught my attention was when Dr Amelia Shepherd stood like a superhero preparing herself for a career defining surgery.

So I began to wonder, does standing like a super hero make you feel like one? And if so, what are the resulting effects?

According to social scientists, a 2 minute powerful posture increases the dominance hormone by about 20% whilst dropping the stress hormone by 25%- thus affirming that a superhero posture turns you into a superhero.

When I think of the super hero pose, I immediately think of superman or wonder women where they stand with legs spread apart, arms on hips, elbows bent, chest lifted and head held high. Striking a powerful pose can trick your mind into feelings of power and reduced feelings of stress which consequently boost confidence levels. These psychological effects are linked to better performance and more assertive behaviour.

This talk about the “power pose” all started in 2012 when social psychologist Amy Cuddy revealed her research on Power Poses in her TEDx Global Speech titled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”. According to Cuddy, both humans and animals express power through their bodies. When they feel unsure about something, they hunch their bodies, cross their arms over their chest and close up their bodies as if they are afraid of taking up space. On the contrary, when they feel on top of the world, they sprawl out and open themselves up not afraid to take up space. It is with this observation that Cuddy argued that adopting postures changes a person’s internal state of being. In a study published by Cuddy, participants who struck power poses for several minutes before beginning a mock job interview received better reviews and were more likely to be chosen for hire.

I have come to know that body language not only affects how others perceive us, but also affects how we think about ourselves. The super hero pose is one of many power poses. Others include the boss pose and the seated power pose. All of these power poses are not so much about how other people read your body language, its more about having your body communicate with your mind and in doing so affecting your behaviour.

The power pose only takes up 2 minutes of your day. Dr Amelia Shepered did a quick power pose before successfully taking out a tumour in a very complicated and highly risky procedure. In the two minutes she stood, fully opening up her body she basically told her herself she can do it, she believed she could do it and in the end she did do it.

So in the event that you are preparing for a job interview, exam, public speech or any other career or life defining moment, stand like a super hero, feel like a super hero, and be a super hero.