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This Simple 'Power Pose' Can Change Your Life And Career -- TED talk by Amy Cuddy, notes by Henry Blodget


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This Simple Power Pose Can Change Your Life And Career Business Insider

Henry Blodget writes:

Everyone talks about the importance of "body language," but few people understand how much of an impact it actually has — not just in the way others perceive us, but in terms of how we actually perform.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy gave a great presentation at TED about this.

Certain "power poses" don't just change how others perceive you, Professor Cuddy says. They immediately change your body chemistry.

And these changes affect the way you do your job and interact with other people.

Professor Cuddy concluded her talk with a startling revelation about herself, one that led her to choke up momentarily. Then the talk ended in a standing ovation.

Henry Blodget's slides on the subject are below.

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School.

Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist and professor at Harvard Business School.

Professor Cuddy studies "body language"--the non-verbal communication that can tell us almost everything about what is going on in a given situation.

Professor Cuddy studies "body language"--the non-verbal communication that can tell us almost everything about what is going on in a given situation.

Small gestures reveal glimpses of character and shape perceptions about how people are perceived. Here, President Obama shakes the hand of a British policeman while entering the Prime Minister's house on Downing Street.

Small gestures reveal glimpses of character and shape perceptions about how people are perceived. Here, President Obama shakes the hand of a British policeman while entering the Prime Minister's house on Downing Street.

Seconds later, the Prime Minister disses the same policeman. British media ran the clip and ridiculed the Prime Minister for weeks.

Seconds later, the Prime Minister disses the same policeman. British media ran the clip and ridiculed the Prime Minister for weeks.

One of the most important elements of body language is the "power pose."

One of the most important elements of body language is the "power pose."

This pose, in which the animal or person is "opened up" is one of the most common high-power poses.

This pose, in which the animal or person is "opened up" is one of the most common high-power poses.

Lots of animals do it.

Lots of animals do it.

And so do people.

And so do people.

This power pose, called "pride," is innate. Congenitally blind people do it when they're victorious in events, even when they've never seen it or been taught to do it.

This power pose, called "pride," is innate. Congenitally blind people do it when they're victorious in events, even when they've never seen it or been taught to do it.

In low power situations, meanwhile, when people or animals are feeling feeble and helpless, they close up.

In low power situations, meanwhile, when people or animals are feeling feeble and helpless, they close up.

They wrap themselves up, Professor Cuddy says.They wrap themselves up, Professor Cuddy says.

And close themselves off from others.

And close themselves off from others.

The "high power" and "low power" poses tend to complement one another in given interactions. One person is in charge. The other isn't.

The "high power" and "low power" poses tend to complement one another in given interactions. One person is in charge. The other isn't.

Researchers already know that nonverbal communication affects how others perceive you and feel about you. For example, a 1-second glimpse of a candidate's face allows people to predict the winner of 70% of Senate and Gubernatorial races.

Researchers already know that nonverbal communication affects how others perceive you and feel about you. For example, a 1-second glimpse of a candidate's face allows people to predict the winner of 70% of Senate and Gubernatorial races.

But can our body language affect how we perceive ourselves?

But can our body language affect how we perceive ourselves?

That's the question that Professor Cuddy set out to answer.

That's the question that Professor Cuddy set out to answer.

She and her colleagues put together a test in which they asked people to assume a "high-power pose" for 2 minutes. Like this one, for example:

She and her colleagues put together a test in which they asked people to assume a "high-power pose" for 2 minutes. Like this one, for example

Or these. (The one of the right is called "The Wonder Woman.")

Or these. (The one of the right is called "The Wonder Woman.")

Or these.

Or these.

And the researchers also asked the subjects to assume "low-power poses" for 2 minutes.

And the researchers also asked the subjects to assume "low-power poses" for 2 minutes.

Such as these.

Such as these.

This position, incidentally, is the lowest power pose of all.

This position, incidentally, is the lowest power pose of all.

Then, the researchers tested the subjects' risk tolerance and body chemistry. The results were shocking.

Then, the researchers tested the subjects' risk tolerance and body chemistry. The results were shocking.

After just a 2-minute "high power pose," the risk tolerance of the high-power posers soared. The risk tolerance of the low-power posers, meanwhile, shrank.

After just a 2-minute "high power pose," the risk tolerance of the high-power posers soared. The risk tolerance of the low-power posers, meanwhile, shrank.

This, the researchers found, was the result of a profound change in body chemistry. Testosterone is the "dominance" hormone. After a mere 2-minute pose, the testosterone levels of the "high power" posers rose 20%. Testosterone levels for the "low power" group, meanwhile, fell 10%.

This, the researchers found, was the result of a profound change in body chemistry. Testosterone is the "dominance" hormone. After a mere 2-minute pose, the testosterone levels of the "high power" posers rose 20%. Testosterone levels for the "low power" group, meanwhile, fell 10%.

Testosterone is one key chemical for "power." The other is cortisol. When cortisol levels drop, people are better able to handle stressful situations (a good thing in a leader). After the 2-minute poses, the cortisol levels of the "high power" group fell sharply. The cortisol levels of the "low-power" group, meanwhile, rose.

Testosterone is one key chemical for "power." The other is cortisol. When cortisol levels drop, people are better able to handle stressful situations (a good thing in a leader). After the 2-minute poses, the cortisol levels of the "high power" group fell sharply. The cortisol levels of the "low-power" group, meanwhile, rose.

This research answered the questions...

This research answered the questions...

...

...

So, then, a new question arose...

So, then, a new question arose...

For example, if you assumed a "high power pose" in a job interview, would that help you get the job?

For example, if you assumed a "high power pose" in a job interview, would that help you get the job?

Absolutely not! It would seem offensive, presumptive, and rude to your interviewer, regardless of how it made you feel.

Absolutely not! It would seem offensive, presumptive, and rude to your interviewer, regardless of how it made you feel.

But think about how people "pose" when they're waiting for job interviews. They "close up" and assume low-power poses. So, what if, in the bathroom or something, you prepared for an interview by assuming a high-power pose?

But think about how people "pose" when they're waiting for job interviews. They "close up" and assume low-power poses. So, what if, in the bathroom or something, you prepared for an interview by assuming a high-power pose?

Professor Cuddy and her colleagues decided to test that. To reduce the impact of interpersonal feedback, they trained the "interviewers" to be completely passive during the interviews, giving no responses whatsoever. (Apparently, most people find this more stressful and disconcerting than getting actively heckled).

Professor Cuddy and her colleagues decided to test that. To reduce the impact of interpersonal feedback, they trained the "interviewers" to be completely passive during the interviews, giving no responses whatsoever. (Apparently, most people find this more stressful and disconcerting than getting actively heckled).

The results? You guessed it. The "high-power" posers were overwhelmingly the ones that non-partial judges who viewed the interviews wanted to hire. Importantly, what these people actually said in the interviews was irrelevant. It was all about "presence."

The results? You guessed it. The "high-power" posers were overwhelmingly the ones that non-partial judges who viewed the interviews wanted to hire. Importantly, what these people actually said in the interviews was irrelevant. It was all about "presence."

In these situations, in other words, body language was everything.

In these situations, in other words, body language was everything.

At this point in the talk, Professor Cuddy revealed something about herself. At age 19, she was gravely injured in a car accident. She woke up in a head-trauma ward and was told that her IQ had dropped by two standard deviations. She was told she would never make it through college.

At this point in the talk, Professor Cuddy revealed something about herself. At age 19, she was gravely injured in a car accident. She woke up in a head-trauma ward and was told that her IQ had dropped by two standard deviations. She was told she would never make it through college.

She decided not to quit. She worked and worked. It took her four years longer than the rest of her class to graduate. But she graduated. Then she somehow managed to persuade someone at Princeton to accept her into grad school.

She decided not to quit. She worked and worked. It took her four years longer than the rest of her class to graduate. But she graduated. Then she somehow managed to persuade someone at Princeton to accept her into grad school.

She felt like an imposter. The first day at Princeton, she realized what she was up against, and she told her advisor she wanted to quit. Her advisor wouldn't let her. The advisor said, effectively, you're going to fake it until you make it--no matter how much it scares you.

She felt like an imposter. The first day at Princeton, she realized what she was up against, and she told her advisor she wanted to quit. Her advisor wouldn't let her. The advisor said, effectively, you're going to fake it until you make it--no matter how much it scares you.

Professor Cuddy "faked it." She "faked it" all the way through Princeton and Northwestern and Harvard. She "faked it" until she had long since forgotten that she was "faking it."

Professor Cuddy "faked it." She "faked it" all the way through Princeton and Northwestern and Harvard. She "faked it" until she had long since forgotten that she was "faking it."

And then, at Harvard, one of her students came to her and said, "I'm quitting--I can't do this." And Professor Cuddy realized two things: First, that she herself had not just "faked it 'til she made it." She had faked it until she BECAME it. And her student was going to fake it until she became it, too.

And then, at Harvard, one of her students came to her and said, "I'm quitting--I can't do this." And Professor Cuddy realized two things: First, that she herself had not just "faked it 'til she made it." She had faked it until she BECAME it. And her student was going to fake it until she became it, too.

And that's the key message for all of us, Professor Cuddy says.

And that's the key message for all of us, Professor Cuddy says.

Small changes in body language change your body chemistry.

Small changes in body language change your body chemistry.

So, try that power pose!

So, try that power pose!

Note: Power pose takes practice. So practice!

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