It’s fairly common knowledge that your body language affects the way that other people perceive you. What most people don’t realize is that your body language affects how you perceive yourself and as a result, it affects what you are. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave a wonderful talk on this subject at the TED conference in June of last year. You can find the 21 minute video embedded below. It’s worth watching all the way through.
The crux of the talk is that we are wired genetically to react in certain ways when we feel powerful. If we model those behaviors when we aren’t feeling powerful, over time we will feel more powerful and confident. Cuddy says that this is related to an increased amount of testosterone and a reduced amount of cortisol (stress hormone) that are the result of using more powerful poses.
I never really knew about this affect, but I think I trained myself in a similar way over the years. When I was in high school, I was always a bit quieter than my peers. That isn’t to say that I was actually shy. People said that I spoke too quietly and that people just had to get to know me first before they could see what type of person I was. So, I started trying to speak just a bit louder. Then when I went to college, I decided that I would do two things. I would stop slouching when walking, instead always walking at my full height. I would also speak on the first day of every class, so that I would have broken that ice before it became too thick, preventing me from ever being comfortable talking in class. Those two actions made me feel more confident.
Later, I became a roller hockey coach during the summers and I found myself having to project very loudly to make myself heard. After months of that for two summers, I found that I naturally projected whenever I spoke. That fully closed the loop on being too quiet. Without any effort, I found myself being heard whenever I spoke. Since I didn’t have to repeat myself, I was more likely to speak and for some reason felt like I not only could speak, but I should speak because I had something to say.
What I’m saying is that my experience is that modeling what you want to become can actually lead to you becoming what you desire. So, if you want to be a better you than you are, watch this video and try to internalize what Amy Cuddy is saying. You’ll feel like a fraud at first, but eventually you won’t. You’ll actually have become your goal.