Wonder Woman - Adrianne Palicki

According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, body language affects how others see us, and it may also change how we see ourselves. Her experimental and correlational research shows that holding one’s body in “high-power” poses for as little as two minutes can summon an extra surge of power and sense of well-being when it’s needed. The expansive “high-power” poses stimulate higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss). In addition to causing hormonal shifts, power poses lead to increased feelings of power and a greater tolerance for risk.

“We are influenced, and influence others, through very unconscious and implicit processes,” Cuddy says. “People tend to spend too much energy focusing on the words they’re saying—perfectly crafting the content of the message—when in many cases that matters much less than how it’s being communicated. People often are more influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re saying. It’s not about the content of the message, but how you’re communicating it.”

So next time you are faced with an important interview or a challenging presentation to a group of skeptical customers, strike the high-power poses (first put your feet on desk, hands behind head; then, standing and leaning on your hands over a desk) for two minutes beforehand if possible and also be mindful of your posture during the interview or presentation. When you sit in a chair with arms held close and hands folded, and standing with arms and legs crossed tightly, you are revolving back to low-power poses.

The other thing that’s worth our attention is the tone of voice. It’s easier to carry a pleasant tone in public because we know people are watching us. In private, when we are tired and our masks are down, the true color tends to come out. I didn’t realize until a year ago that there was a tint of annoyance in my voice when I spoke to my kids. Growing up in my aunt’s small single-room home with 9 other people, everyone was irritated most of the time. My dear 4 feet and 80 lbs grandma cooked, washed and cleaned day in and day out. She’d do anything for anyone but her voice would give away her frustration and exhaustion of carrying the full weight for a large mixed family. I usually act the same way when I get worn out or stressed.

So I experimented with Jake. Every time I instructed him to do something with a pleasant voice, he’d respond quickly and positively. The opposite was true when I said the same thing annoyingly like “Jake, computer time is up. You need to take a shower right now!”

I have been practicing speaking with music in my voice especially when I am tired or when I project resistance. For example, while Jake is taking a very long time examining the various toys in the store, instead of rushing him “Jake, hurry up, we have to go!”, I’d say nicely “You know, Jake, we don’t have all the time in the world. Can you make a decision within the next couple of minutes? Because the sooner we get home, the sooner you can play with your new toy.” That incents him to make a quicker decision for his own benefit.

Some of you may say, “This is so unnatural. It isn’t me!” Decades-old studies have proven that you can smile long enough to make yourself feel happy. Even if you are ‘faking’ it initially, your brain still goes through changes and eventually the sense of happiness will be internalized and become a habit. In the same way, by focusing on postures and tone of voice and measuring neuroendocrine levels, you can become a more confident and influential communicator.

Image credit: http://otherdimensionsandgalaxies.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-world-without-wonder-woman.html