Power Posing: Fake It Until You Become It

“Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist. She studies how nonverbal behavior (body language) affects people from the classroom to the boardroom.

In 2012, she gave an honest talk on how, in just two minutes, you can transform the way others perceive you and how you perceive yourself.

How? Power posing. Like wearing your power color, power posing displays confidence, even when you don’t feel it. And all it takes is two minutes.

When we meet someone for the first time, we make calls on trustworthiness almost instantly. This snap judgment is based typically on body language. If a man crosses his arms against his chest, we assume he’s defensive. If a woman wrings her hands, we assume she’s insecure. All of these judgments are made within a matter of seconds and can impact who we hire, promote and engage.

The way we behave nonverbally is similar to the way animals do. To show power and dominance, animals puff their chests to appear bigger and stand out from the rest.

Similarly, we make ourselves appear in control when we come into a room and spread out our belongings to fill the space. We hold our heads high as we pitch our ideas and listen to others.

When we’re self-conscious and feel powerless, we do the opposite.

We sit, hunched over to make ourselves look small. We wrap our arms around ourselves for protection. We bow our heads and rub our necks.

And when we interact with someone of one power, we subconsciously do the opposite to avoid confrontation. If we stand beside someone who has their hands on their hips and feet slightly apart, we typically balance them by appearing smaller – hands down, feet together.

It may come as no surprise that women display low power more often than men.

We’ve all heard the phrase: Fake it until you make it. But is it possible? Can you walk into a room, feel intimidated and not show it? Moreover, can you walk into a room, feel intimated but appear to be confident? Yes, it is – and it all starts with body language. Research shows that when you pretend to be powerful, you actually feel more powerful.

Our nonverbals govern how others feel about us but also how we feel about ourselves.

“Our bodies change our minds; our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes,” Amy says.

When you feel powerful it shows. You’re assertive, confident and optimistic. You think conceptually and take risks.

So how do you fake it until you become that person? That person who enters a room and demands attention. That person who speaks, and no matter what they say, everyone listens. You know that person.

By making slight tweaks to your body language, you’ll change your mindset from powerless to powerful. It will become less of pretending to be confident and more of feeling and becoming it.

Before you attend your next networking event, big presentation, job interview or annual review – take two minutes.

Stand in your office. Go outside. Duck into a bathroom stall. Find someplace quiet and for two minutes, stand with your hands on your hips and head high.

“It could significantly change the way your life unfolds,” Amy says.

Ready to harness your inner cheerleader? Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk:

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Abby Downs

Abby Downs is a St. Louis native and professional writer. If she doesn’t have a pen in her hand, it’s a camera. When she’s not busy combining these two loves, she can be found binge-watching 90s sitcoms, trying new cheeses and planning her next big adventure.