Your body language speaks louder than your verbal language. It doesn’t matter if your speech is firm, assertive, carrying powerful ideas: if your body language betrays your lack of self-confidence, you will be less charismatic and you won’t have the influence you desire.
But I have an extraordinary tool to pass on to you: the postures of influence, capable not only of increasing your impact, but also of increasing your self-confidence tenfold.
WHAT IS A POSTURE OF INFLUENCE, AND HOW DOES ITS POWER WORK?
The problem with low self-confidence is that it is a vicious circle: it doesn’t just hurt you by driving you into destructive self-criticism and missing out on your life because you doubt yourself. Lack of self-confidence also prevents you from inspiring confidence in others. Indeed, body language that betrays your self-doubt makes others doubt you. So you fail to make the impact you want to make, and this feeds your lack of self-confidence. How do you break out of this destructive cycle? By working on your body language.
Our body language betrays our degree of self-confidence:
- A confident person spreads his or her body in space. Their arms and legs are uncrossed, their back is straight, their face is up.
- A person who lacks confidence tries to occupy as little space as possible, as if apologising for being there: arms crossed over the body, back arched, head bowed, sometimes using the excuse of their smartphone to physically withdraw into themselves.
Amy Cuddy, an American psychologist, took this observation as a starting point to ask whether, beyond these appearances, there was a physiological difference between people who were or were not confident. She discovered that people with confidence and charisma had a high level of testosterone (present even in women), a hormone that encourages conquest, and a low level of cortisol, the stress hormone. The opposite is true of insecure people: high cortisol, low testosterone.
She then conducted an experiment on a large panel of people, mixing those who were confident and those who were not. She divided these people into two groups: for 5 minutes, some would adopt power postures, and the others Power postures, as she called them. She then had their hormone levels analysed again and found an almost miraculous change:
In those who had posed as confident people, testosterone had soared, and cortisol had fallen
For those who had posed as shy and insecure, cortisol levels had risen and testosterone had fallen, even in those who were naturally confident!
This means that adopting a Power Posture, a posture of influence, is not just about pretending to be confident, and projecting a stronger, more charismatic image. It’s also about a deep change and feeling deeply powerful and confident! The more you practice these postures, the more it will become your natural body language, and especially the more you will gain in confidence and impact.
THE WONDER WOMAN POSTURE
You see how the superheroine is frequently portrayed: feet firmly planted in the ground, hip-width apart, but on her hips, back straight, torso bent, face up and eyes pointing straight ahead.
This influential posture is widely used in the stage design of artists such as Beyoncé, to name but one. Of course, it’s not necessarily easy to do this pose in your day-to-day interactions, but Amy Cuddy recommends practicing it alone at home when you’re feeling intimidated or stressed, or posing out of sight, in a bathroom for example, when you’re waiting for a job interview or exam.
THE VICTORY POSTURE
This posture is also to be practiced in private. You have probably already seen the finish of a race. What does the winner do? He raises his arms in a V-shape to the sky as a sign of victory. Researchers have observed that even people who were blind from birth did this gesture when they felt triumphant, which proves that it is a posture that naturally expresses a feeling of power, and not a mimicry. Your turn: legs slightly apart, standing with arms in a V-shape, for 5 minutes! You celebrate your future victories.
THE LEADER’S POSTURE
Have you ever seen a speaker address an audience with the air of possessing the space and having a natural authority over the group they are addressing? Think of some politicians, teachers, religious leaders in front of a group that needs to be convinced and guided: the body is not only straight, it is slightly inclined towards the group, leaning on the desk or the lectern. The legs are slightly spread, the gaze is plunged towards the audience.
Try this posture on a table: put your hands further apart than your shoulders, as if you were pouncing on a prey. Your feet are firmly planted in the ground, spread out. Your body is tilted on the table, but your head is raised towards an imaginary crowd that is listening only to you.
THE BOSS LADY’S STANCE
A boss lady makes no apologies for being at her desk: she is at home and it shows. She sits in her chair, her back comfortably resting on the backrest, her legs may be crossed, but her arms are spread out on the armrests. Her upper body occupies a maximum of space: she is as comfortable in public as if she were at home, totally relaxed.
THE WOMAN-SPREADING POSTURE
Manspreading, the annoying tendency of men to spread out physically as if they owned every space, is rightly criticised. Women often have the opposite reflex of making themselves very small in common spaces. Thus, manspreading consists, for example, of occupying 2 metro seats by spreading their legs and slouching without taking into account the others.
Obviously, no Woman of Influence would have this vulgarity! However, you will practice this posture in private, always with the aim of developing your confidence. In public, you will adapt it to an elegant but confident attitude: without going so far as to spread your legs and arms, you can take care not to fold your body in on itself. For example, if you cross your legs, straighten your back and unfold your arms.
Go on, get into a badass warrior position ready to take on any challenge!