By Patti Wood, MA, CSP body language expert and Author of Snap –Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma.
The first speaker walked confidently onto the stage with his shoulders back, his chest held high and stood with his feet apart and began gesturing broadly. The second speaker shuffled hesitantly onto the stage and stood with his shoulders slumped, his head bowed, his feet together and his hands twined together held below his belt. What do you think of each speaker and what do you think each was feeling? Powerful body language is telling. In a study of 132 business school graduates that took place over eight years and included extensive interviews, researches looked at women who showed powerful body language and discovered that women who can turn their powerful on and off according to their circumstances, (called self- monitoring) get more promotions than men or other women. We know that body language can make people think and feel differently about you but in her popular TED talk Amy Cuddy enthusiastically shares her research results that show that holding a powerful or powerless body language posture for two minutes can to change your hormones, (raising or lowering testosterone and cortisol) and thus how you feel. Halleluiah, some great new research to support what I feel is one of the most remarkable and beneficial aspects of body language awareness. I say in my book Snap Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma that however you hold yourself, however you move through space, and however you gesture, your body sends messages back to your brain to make you feel that way. So, if you are standing with your shoulders drooping and head bowed, the little pharmacy in your brain creates, and sends, chemicals into your bloodstream in less than a fortieth of a second - to make you feel less powerful. The great news is, if you know what creates powerful body language messages, and integrate that with an awareness of your own body language, you can feel as powerful as you wish to be in a fraction of a second. What can you do to make yourself feel authentically powerful immediately? The four foundation principles of power are confidence, space, openness, and relaxation.
So to feel more powerful:
1) Take up space with your body. Notice how far apart your feet are normally and if you don’t feel powerful, stand or with your feet as little as one inch further apart to feel lion like stability and presence. If you are seated you can put your feet further apart or out and use those arm rests. Spread out.
2) Hold and or gesture your hands above your waist, or to feel victorious and euphoric hold them very high up at or above your head. What I call Up posture makes you feel up and confident. So hold your head and body up. We spend far too much time looking down at our smart phones. Train yourself to look up.
3) Keep what I call your body windows open. Focus on the windows at your feet your pelvis your heart your neck and the palms of your hands. Stand or sit with your limbs unfolded and don’t close and block your windows with your stuff, such as your coffee cup or purse smart phone or by touching you face, your neck shirt collar in power reducing self- comfort moves.
4) Relax your body. Tension makes us get small relaxing and breathing make you look and feel powerful.
You have the power to change the way you feel in any situation. So put your hands in the air and get powerful!Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.