Claim Your Space

powerposeswomenHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress and adding greater self-assurance. Claim your space!

©MWeisner2017

Power Pose or Poser?

PerceptionHarvard professor and researcher Amy Cuddy recently delivered an inspirational keynote address. This was of particular note as she wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree, yet she persevered despite the original prognosis.

Cuddy’s research at Harvard Business School confirms that our body language communicates information to others that shapes their perceptions of us. It also communicates information to us that shapes our own self-concept. We can construct how powerful we feel by assuming expansive body poses.

In “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance”, Cuddy shows that simply holding one’s body in expansive, high-power poses for as little as two-minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone, the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds, and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss. These power poses led to an increased sense of power and risk tolerance.

In other words, Cuddy states that we can fake confidence and power by using expansive body language to change our body chemistry and our feelings. This is especially useful in preparing to speak to a group or in any situation where a self-assured image is important. Whether you face a challenging subordinate, a complex negotiation or a difficult relative, this is a quick way to gather your composure and tap into your power. Begin incorporating the pose into your daily practices, thereby reducing stress, adding greater self-assurance, and dashing the notion that the pose is for posers only.

©MWeisner2015

Lighten Up

A young woman steps into the elevator moments before her boss does. Earlier that day, she had delivered what she thought was a well received presentation to her team. No acknowledgement is made on the ride to the lobby. Our junior executive jump-starts the following silent dialogue as the car descends:

• I blew the talk
• I embarrassed myself and my team
• I shouldn’t have volunteered to present
• I’ll never be promoted
• I hate this job
• I should have gone to medical school
• I’m too old now
• My husband never supported my dream
• I’m asking for a divorce when I get home

An extreme reaction? Perhaps, and yet how many times have we had an over the top response to the perceived behavior of someone else? If so, you are not alone and while we can snicker at the very detailed internal responses in the previous example, this negative self-talk took mere seconds from beginning to end. How many times in the course of the day do you engage in other sorts of negative thinking that in the long term is like a slow, toxic drip? Keep in mind that the average person has over 10,000 thoughts in a 24-hour period.

There is no evidence in this encounter that her boss’s behavior could have been attributed to a poor performance by our presenter. In fact, she was preoccupied with other pressing issues and completely unaware of her fellow elevator riders. According to Ben Battner, author of The Blame Game, “For most people, the fear of being blamed looms larger than the hope of getting credit. This means that in an attempt to avoid risk, people often make the wrong choice- or no choice at all.”

So, how can mini dramas like this be short circuited in the future? We can take deliberate steps to prevent our minds from getting hijacked by pessimism, muffle the inner naysayer and identify the source.
• Slow down…you are not powerless
• Ask yourself why you are feeling so sensitive at that moment
• Is your reaction reasonable based on the facts or a fall back habit?
• Identify someone you can share this with for reliable feedback
• Slow down…you can change your self-talk

©2013 MWeisner, All rights reserved

Is Your Elephant Still in the Closet?

imagesWhat does your “elephant” look like? He’s not sitting in the middle of the room; the form that everyone ignores or steps over. I would venture to guess that yours is not a literal interpretation resembling a Disneyesque version of Dumbo. This is a much more sophisticated and metaphorical form. It could be anything from a strong image to something more symbolic of the things/beliefs that may be holding you back. Early on we take in information that supports us as well as that which can be central to stopping us. For example, the screaming parent of the 5-year old who blocked you from riding your bicycle into the street may be behaving very appropriately. In this example, she was acting in the interest of your safety. To extrapolate from that incident that you are not trustworthy or it is never safe to ride a bicycle in the street or that you make poor decisions or even that you can never master a skill appropriately…that is the trap. Conversely, if the message you take forward as an adult is that there is a learning curve and it may be different for all of us, you may be more patient with yourself and with others. Taking proper safety precautions might include scheduling lessons with an instructor or ensuring that a facility is licensed. If you have limited your physical activities for fear of being injured or you lack confidence in your athletic abilities, it’s time to check in with your closet elephant again. Keep in mind that he/she may be very convincing; that in fact its presence is all for the sake of protecting you. While the intention is not in and of itself malicious, it is very keen to maintain the status quo, and that is not in your best interest.

If your elephant is still in the closet:
• Stop taking peeks
• Open the door
• Coax him/her out with a handful of peanuts

Oftentimes, the simple act of bravely confronting what you deem to be so uncomfortable is a huge step in calming the messages down. In my case, the day prior to any speaking engagement is the time when I hope the organization will call to cancel. It is reminiscent of school days and praying for a snowstorm. In the beginning, these thoughts took longer to manage, but after years of doing the work that I love, speaking to groups, those feelings no longer hold the power they once did. In fact, I often smile noting that they are something to acknowledge and release; not unlike an old friend checking in on my evolving growth. As you too reframe, adapt and adjust, that elephant will take up so much less room in the closet that you may actually be able to use it for storage.