Don’t slouch!  Keep your head up!

If your mother is anything like mine then these words might sound familiar.  From the time I was eight years old, my mother would gently remind me to sit up straight and stop hunching over.  She would tell me to pull my shoulders back and keep my head up.

It turns out that my mom’s advice has some very profound applications in adult life.  Not only does posture effect the way other people perceive you, but it also effects your entire physiology.  Your posture influences everything from lung capacity to stress and confidence levels.

Power poses

Harvard Business School’s  Amy J.C. Cuddy gave an excellent presentation at TED on the importance of posture and non verbal communication.  Cuddy and her colleagues have done studies on how performing “power poses” prior to high stakes social evaluations, like job interviews, profoundly effect your body.

Their study demonstrated that not only does bad posture make you less hirable, but it also makes you more more stressed out by influencing your cortisol (stress hormone), and less confident by influencing your testosterone (male sex hormone).  On the other hand, when “high power poses” were practiced the researchers observed a very positive effect.

In fact, according to Cuddy’s blog, the change in cortisol and testosterone levels was quite dramatic.  Individuals in a high power pose experienced a20% increase in testosterone and about a 25% decrease in cortisol levels in as little as a few minutes.  Nearly the same thing happened in reverse to people put in low power poses.

This is a big deal.  Her study shows that “power posing” not only makes you less stressed, but it also makes you feel more dominant, confident, and powerful by elevating testosterone levels.  This information can be valuable to professionals everywhere!  Try your best to always be in some power pose, and always beware of low power poses that will negatively influence not only your own physiology, but the way others view you as well.

2 HIGH power poses

High power poses are characterized by having an open chest, shoulders rolled back away from the head, and being as expansive as possible.  Below are two examples of high power poses that you can put yourself into very quickly:


2 LOW power poses

Low power poses are characterized by siting with forward rounded shoulders, head down, and being as small or narrow as possible (think about someone sitting and texting!).  Below are two examples of these low power poses:


Applying this to every day life

Remember, knowledge is only power when it is applied.  If you are dealing with some stress and lack of confidence levels right now, then I would encourage you to look at how you sit and hold yourself on a daily basis.

How are you sitting at work?  Do you find yourself falling into a low power pose while working on a key board?  While reading?  While texting?  If so, then I would invite you to start forming the habit of keeping the shoulders rolled back, chest out, at all time!

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