Power Poses for Powerful Interpersonal Communication

I even power pose in the Pokomoke State Park. It intimidates the ticks.
I even power pose in the Pokomoke State Park. It intimidates the ticks.

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.

Photo of Jennifer Patel doing a Power Pose. Courtesy of flickr Creative Commons.
Jennifer Patel’s Power Pose – posted by Juhan Sonin on flickr.

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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