iPosture. Ever heard of it? It’s the hunch in your spine that forms from too much time slumped in front of a computer or squinting at a smartphone.
With daily physio exercises, you can halt or reverse this condition. But a kink in your spine is not the only thing that sitting like this will do — it may be stooping your social standing as well.
In the picture above, we see a classic case of iPosture — mine. How important do I look? How important do you think I feel? If you were a scientist taking a saliva swab to measure my cortisol (stress hormone) levels, you might even find that they have increased.
What about in the picture above? Do I look more confident? Maybe even more relaxed? I certainly felt more relaxed and confident mere moments after taking this photo. If you were to do another swab, you might find that my stress hormone levels have decreased and my testosterone levels have increased as much as 20 per cent. Testosterone is a hormone present in both males and females that plays a role in confidence and risk-taking.
Research conducted by Amy Cuddy on this topic has shown that if someone holds a dominant pose for two minutes, their saliva will test positive for elevated levels of testosterone within 15 minutes.
What does that mean for you? Two things:
1. Your posture will inform biological responses within your body. If you act dominant, your body chemistry will make you feel dominant. If you act submissive, your body will respond accordingly.
2. Most Western workplaces reward those who are confident, capable and who take action. Testosterone is a hormone that makes it easier to exhibit these traits.
This is the result of evolution. Alpha gorillas take up space and impose their will on others. They have high testosterone. The betas make themselves smaller — for their own safety. They have lower testosterone and higher cortisol levels. When an alpha gorilla dies suddenly, a beta may have to take his place. The new alpha’s chemistry will adjust to fill the role of dominance. His testosterone will increase. In other words, someone with low confidence who fakes being confident will physiologically become more confident.
Cuddy recommends giving yourself a shot of confidence prior to a meeting, interview or any time you have to “perform.” Find a private spot and strike those poses for at least two minutes.
Poses include, legs shoulder-width apart, hands on hips — like Super Wo/man — or arms up in a muscle man pose. If no one is looking, put your feet up on the desk and clasp your hands behind your head. Do a Google Image search for Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt and Tiger Woods victory photos. Imitate them.
While you shouldn’t be strutting around work with your chest out — you’ll look silly for trying too hard — make an effort to own the space in which you preside, no matter what you’re doing.
As someone with a natural iPosture and who finds it easy to make himself small so that others don’t feel uncomfortable, owning my space something that I’ve been doing on a regular basis.
Taking this approach will not only make you feel more confident, it will put others at ease. When your boss knows that the tasks they’ve assigned you are going to a person who is confident, capable and who will speak up, they will be relieved. You will convey the sense that your boss’s burden is not a problem for you to carry. This ability will serve you well throughout your career.
Here’s what you need to do this week: On Monday and Tuesday, try your power poses in the morning before work and at least once in private during the day.
By Wednesday, start taking up more space in general. In meetings, put your arms on your armrests or on the table — no cradling your elbows or clasping your hands — that self-soothing posture will spike your stress hormones.
For Thursday and Friday, see how you can utilize your personal space. Take it up. Confident people use their space creatively. They lean on things or drape their legs over the arms of chairs. If you’re going to be a confident person, you should do this, too.
You will see results immediately, but the power will come in the long-term. Over time, you will see a transformation, that is not just in your head but a true physiological change: a new, more confident version of you.
Also by Michael Allison: Building Rapport Through Power Questions