Amy Cuddy gave a fascinating, and research-backed, suggestion for anyone heading into a job interview, a first date or a public speaking event: stand in front of a mirror, put your hands on your hips, tilt your chin up, and make yourself as tall as you can get. Even better: throw your arms up and out. In her lab, Cuddy found that “power posing” for two minutes was enough to increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol, making people feel more in control. In other words, the way you hold your body can change how you feel about yourself.
Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are This is the idea that today’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post explores: can feeling follow from the way you use your body? Here, three of the great essays that are available now for your reading pleasure.
Amy Cuddy: Power is great, but warmth comes first
You must understand the people you’re trying to influence or lead by building trust first before demonstrating competence and power. You must be able to show them that you understand them — and, better yet, that you can relate to them. By doing that, you’re laying the groundwork for trust. And it’s only then that they can really hear you and be open to your ideas. Trust is the conduit for influence; it’s the medium through which ideas travel. If they don’t trust you, your ideas are just dead in the water. If they trust you, they’re open and they can hear what you’re offering. Having the best idea is worth nothing if people don’t trust you.
It’s not uncommon for people to overvalue the importance of demonstrating their competence and power, often at the expense of demonstrating their warmth. I think it’s especially common for people striving for leadership positions — in politics, business, law, medicine… you name it. Too many people try to be the smartest guy in the room — the alpha — and that’s not actually how you become persuasive or become a good leader. It’s a mistake. People judge trustworthiness before competence. They make inferences of trustworthiness and warmth before competence and power.
Dr. Douglas Fields: Thinking with Your Body
I’d like you to imagine a specific incident in your past. Imagine the last time you were afraid. I mean really afraid — terrified. It might have been a close encounter with a robber on a dark street, or quaking just before speaking in front of a crowd, or a personal phobia, such as fear of heights or flying. Recall the sensations of that fear — the racing heart about to burst, panting, intestines twisted into knots, knees shaking and hands trembling, cold sweat oozing out of your palms and beading up on your forehead.
Now imagine exactly the same scene, but without any of the bodily sensations that fear brings. No sweaty palms, heart rate and breathing calm, your muscles relaxed and your stomach content. Are you still afraid? What would fear be without the body? Can fear exist only in the mind?
Dr. Craig Malkin: Can Acting in Love Help You Stay in Love?
In her deeply fascinating, often moving TEDTalk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Amy Cuddy offers up a thesis with startling implications: even the simplest act, repeated over time, can profoundly shape our destiny. After citing evidence from her own research that two minutes of standing in a more powerful position alters our brain and body chemistry, helping us become more assertive, confident, and passionate, Dr. Cuddy goes on to describe how she, herself, overcame the debilitating neurological effects of a devastating auto accident by faking confidence until she actually becameconfident. She stands before us, transformed from the diffident, traumatized young woman she once was, into a vibrant, compelling leader in her field — living proof that how we behave shapes not just our feelings, but who we are.
For many, this research may come as a surprise, but Dr. Cuddy’s findings are actually part of a rapidly growing body of evidence that, across a range of important human experiences, feeling often follows action.