Act as if you can – to build confidence
Displays of non verbal expressions of power are displayed by both humans and animals alike. The peacock fans its beautiful tail feathers to attract attention; birds and cats puff themselves up to appear larger than they actually are. Even the most confident person may not always feel super confident and outgoing, and they too may have times of feeling under-confident. But can we learn to develop our confidence?
There are times when we want to be confident, such as at a job interview, a presentation, an important occasion or an important sales pitch, but something keeps holding us back. This is where it can help to "fake it to make it". The brain does not know the difference between doing the real thing and pretending to be confident. I once had a great boss who, when I approached him and told him that I was not coping with the new promotion that he had given me, said “if you feel that you are not confident then just act as if you are confident”. Sure enough, after a short while of pretending to be able to do the job I did indeed begin to really do the job. But what was it that worked?
Research conducted at Harvard University that suggests that by simply spending a few short minutes ‘power posing’ that we can all improve our confidence. The research indicates that people with small, closed body powerless posture and low confidence have a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood than people who display large open body powerful posture - these people have a higher level of testosterone. The research was conducted with students who were separated into two groups and assigned low power posture or high power postures. The students in the high power group were instructed to adopt either the high power pose or the low power pose for a few minutes. The cortisol and testosterone levels were tested for both groups.
The low power posture group were asked to either sit with their heads bent and their arms across their body, or to stand in a similar position whilst the high power group were asked to stand or sit in expansive positions with open arms or with their hand on the hips. The results show significant increases in the testosterone levels of the students who took the power poses and they reported that they felt more powerful after the posing then they did before hand.
I am not suggesting that you power pose in the interview or meeting; beforehand take yourself off somewhere where no one can see you doing it. This can give great results at interviews and presentations, and some report that they did indeed feel much more confident following these actions.
So acting like a pro or "faking it to make it" can actually work if you want to gain more confidence. So next time you want to be more confident try a ‘power pose’ and see if it works for you.
Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuronendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance – Dana Carney, Amy Cuddy and Andy Yap
Psychological Science Online, published on September 21, 2010 downloaded from psss.sagepub.com at Columbia University
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