Amy Cuddy describes the most transformative tool in the universe for better interpersonal communication in her TED talk.
As an actor I learned how to make myself appear big when I was playing a high status character – but I had never applied those tools to real life or to my Acting for Scientists class until I saw Cuddy’s talk. Which totally made me cry (and seriously the only other thing that has ever done that was a commercial for fabric softener).
It also made me determined that I would do everything I could to help smart, powerful, capable people to actually feel like the experts I (and their degree-granting institutions) knew them to be.
I started requiring power poses of the whole class before I began each day of my Acting for Scientists course. Wow! The practice of the power-pose gave confidence and intention to every. single. speaker. Every time.
I started paying attention to my own body language in formal teaching situations (you know, lectures)- where I observed that I twisted my legs into some sort of deformed eagle pose and that I was constantly folding one arm over my stomach, resting my opposite elbow on that arm and then clutching my neck – the very weakest of poses as Cuddy points out.
I resolved to STOP IT. I started talking to myself (what? is that weird?)
“You are a powerful woman in your forties WITH TENURE. Stand in your power ,” I told myself.
Every time I found myself in Deformed Eagle in class, I brought it to the attention of my students and forced myself into Wonder Woman pose. They saw the difference and I felt the difference. Plus I showed them that even though I was the supposed expert in the room I had a lot to work on too.
Then, I found myself in a Deformed Sitting Eagle pose when talking with my Chair. I uncrossed my legs. I put my hands on his desk and took up some power space. I didn’t die and I got what I wanted.
The more I put the power poses into practice (yes. yes. I do spend two minutes in a restroom stall power-posing before every faculty meeting and every presentation. Yes, I do stand like Wonder Woman about 94% of the time now) the more I felt the benefits in my interpersonal communication.
Try it – Not inside your head. For reals. Take up some space. make ’em pay attention!
Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.
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