There’s a reason that the TED talk video titled “Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are” has swelled to nearly 30 million views since the social psychologist gave the talk in 2012. Just over 21 minutes long, Cuddy delves into the practice of “power posing” and how standing like a superhero for one or two minutes prior to a stressful situation helped people do better in said situation. Now, a new book and interview from Cuddy are putting Amy back in the spotlight and capitalizing on the success of the “power posing” practice.
One of the most poignant moments in Amy’s talk came when she broke down in tears talking about being familiar with the feeling that “she’s not supposed to be here.” Cuddy felt that feeling before when a serious car accident left her as a 19-year-old with fewer IQ points than she’d had prior to the car crash. Cuddy was withdrawn from college — a big blow, because Amy identified with being smart. Cuddy fought her way back and finished college. Amy overcame those feelings of inadequacy, but could still empathize with those who felt that way, and as such, she set out to help others feel better and more powerful.
“When you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful.”
Amy spoke about “power posing” versus “powerless posing,” and juxtaposed how hunching over into a powerless stance made people feel powerless. However, standing like a superhero in private — with a wide stance and hands firmly planted on the hips with your head up and chin up — can amazingly have a positive effect upon how you act and are perceived later.
“Fake it till you become it.”
Not just positive self talk, the “power posing” can literally cause hormonal changes in a person’s body chemistry that can make a person feel more confident. Doing such “power posing” moves in private a minute or two prior to a stressful situation can help them exude confidence all throughout the event. It’s a body language situation that hasn’t been studied in depth by scientists, but Amy’s research put the scientific proof in the pudding.
Amy’s new book about the “power posing” practice is titled Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges Hardcover, which is set for publication on December 22, and can be found on Amy’s Amazon author page.
Cuddy’s “power posing” talk ranged from the humorous to the serious, as Amy opened her talk by challenging her audience to examine their own body languages. Amy became expressly interested in how body language difference between her MBA students — who seemed to take up space in the room where she taught and represented large, sweeping movements — differed from those students who cowered and wanted to disappear.
Amy even met her husband, Paul Coster, because of how Paul performed his power pose in a photo with Coster’s “man-spreading” gone wild. Meanwhile, “power posing” photos on Instagram show how people are taking Amy’s advice to heart, and using their own poser poses to lift their testosterone and reduce their cortisone levels. The best part is that people can do their “power posing” in private and it only takes a couple of minutes. Tiny tweaks can lead to big results, Cuddy teaches.
“Stand up straight and realize who you are. This is a tiny tweak that can lead to a huge change.”
[Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Cosmopolitan Magazine and WME Live]