The way we hold ourselves, gesture, and move through space; our nonverbals, influence how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves.
Symbolic gestures of pride are universal across the animal kingdom. Gorillas, gymnasts, and blind athletes all spread their arms high and wide in celebration of a victory; they take up space.
While mostly sub-conscious, we are constantly navigating the power dynamics between us and our environment.
Our nonverbals are one way we manage this; they govern how we think and feel about ourselves, and how we move in relation to, or in the presence of, others.
Why is this important?
Because you can train yourself to feel physiologically powerful, and it has immediate effects on your brain.
People acting powerfully are more assertive, confident, have an easier time abstract thinking, and display risk-taking indicators.
Power is about how you react to stress.
Good leaders are less stress reactive than the people they lead.
The science behind how this functions is fascinating. Researchers have used ‘power pose’ experiments to measure physiological effects.
Low-power poses spike cortisol.
High-power poses spike testosterone.
If you clam up, you are chemically reducing your ability to be present or influential.
If you force yourself to make a habit our of; sitting straight, rocking your shoulders back, keeping your chin up and not crossing your arms and legs, you might not just look more powerful, and be treated as such by those around you. You will likely feel more powerful.
Sometimes your presence is more important than whatever you have to say.