We know that body language can have a significant impact on the way we are perceived by others. The way we stand, sit, and gesticulate signals to the world how we are feeling.
Body language can show confidence, encourage trust, defuse confrontations, and make others feel comfortable around you. On the other end of the spectrum, your body language can also make you look unprofessional as well as untrustworthy, or betray your insecurity.
Whether you are aware of it or not, your movements impact how you are perceived by others. They take in your body language both consciously and unconsciously--"reading" you, in a way--and use these signals as indications of how their interactions with you are going, whether it's a business meeting, interview, pitch, date or something else.
But body language not only reflects our inner state, but--if used intentionally--it can also alter your mindset for the better.
Studies have shown that we can use body language as a sort of "fake it until you make it" tool to boost your feelings of confidence and lower stress. The concept is called "power posing," and it employing it for just two minutes can make a significant difference in how confident you feel.
As Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy explains and demonstrates in her TED Talk, the most impactful pose involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, your hand on your hips, with head held high. This exaggerated stance might make you feel like you're on the cover of a comic book at first, but holding this pose for just two minutes is enough to create a measurable change in your mindset and evoking internal feelings of confidence.
It may not feel natural at first because of it's exaggerated nature, but don't worry--it's unlikely you'd want to do this pose "in the moment" or in the presence of others anyway. Power poses are best done in privacy, such as in your home, in a closed office environment, or--if you need privacy in a pinch--in the restroom.
Power posing in privacy will not only allow you to hold the position for the full two minutes without being interrupted, but it also ensures you can focus your attention on embodying the strength and confidence that the pose evokes.
To create the most powerful effect, you can adopt a power pose regularly, holding it for two minutes each morning. But you can also use it on an "as needed" bases to create a targeted boost of confidence before high-stakes social situations such an major interview, a big presentation or speech, an important meeting or even a first date.
By acknowledging the role that our external body language can have on our inner state, we can take control of the impressions we give as well as take advantage of the impact it can have on our inner state, too.