Yesterday I was ready for the day — dressed, healthy breakfast, checklist, organized handbag. Before I ran out the door I took one last look in the mirror. I call that the dummy check. Making sure I didn’t have toilet paper streaming from my shoe or my tag sticking out of my blouse. All was well, but I was slouching. Shoulders rounded, belly out. I could hear my own voice telling my clients that their posture was key to how they were being perceived. I engaged my power posture; I held my head high, rolled my shoulders back and lengthened my torso which added 2″ to my stature. I felt different, both physically and mentally.
How Body Language Affects Your Life
Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.
It’s easy to walk with confidence when all is well. The challenge is when we’re feeling sad, hurt, tired, etc. This is when we have to put on our big girl (boy) pants and do it anyway. Like Nike’s Just Do It.
When we show up with an air of confidence it translates, I’m confident about me AND my position as an expert and quality of products and services. People notice you. They want to know what you’re all about. In any setting, it’s important to be aware of how your stature is being perceived by others. This is especially true in a business setting.
Here are a few tips to help you with that awareness:
Make a List
I do an exercise with my personal clients. We create a list of attributes- how he/she wants to be perceived. For example: confident, approachable, authority, leader, smart, savvy, friendly, etc. Posting that list in a couple of key locations as a reminder is incredibly effective. I read mine before I step into a business meeting, networking event or taking the stage.
My physical therapist suggested standing with my back flat against the wall, arms stretched out to my sides (like an airplane), arms bent 90 degrees at the elbow. Think of stick ’em up. Holding that position for 60 seconds will engage your muscle memory to help you maintain great posture throughout your day.
I’m a huge fan of House of Cards. Robin Wright plays Claire Underwood, a powerful, political animal with a vulnerable side and gorgeous wardrobe. She also happens to have the most amazing power posture- one of grace and confidence. I visualize Claire as I enter a business setting or take the stage. It’s like playing a part that’s good for my body, mind and bottom line.
I challenge you to integrate these tips into your daily life and see everything you’ve got to gain!
Claire Underwood is my visual. Who is yours?