Startup Tip 54: How a small change can make a big difference to your confidence (and success)

Is your body language sabotaging your success? It could be.

This probably sounds really out there to choose to talk about body language in a startup tip! I don’t blame you if you are thinking “Huh? What is she on about?” :-) But I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s one of those little pieces of information that can make a big difference to our lives.

Your body language affects how others see you

It’s quite well known now that our body language affects how others see us. We have come to see that we can make changes that will influence how others see us and  increase our chances of success in whatever endeavour – dating, business, a job interview, being accepted by a friendship group etc.

Your body language also affects how you see yourself

outward body languageNew research has shown that changing our body language also affects how we see ourselves and is directly related to confidence. The video by Amy Cuddy below is really worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch it, but if you don’t have the time right now, I’ll summarise for you.

She explains that two hormones in our bodies are affected by our body language: testosterone – related to power and dominance and cortisol – related to stress. Open, outward postures that make ourselves bigger, such as expanding the chest, raising the arms, broadening the shoulders etc increase the amount of testosterone in our bodies making us feel more confident and reducing the level of the stress hormone cortisol.

inward body language

The opposite happens when we adopt inward, more closed postures such as crossing out arms, hunching our shoulders or curving our spine – the level of cortisol increases and testosterone decreases making us feel more fearful and less confident.

So our posture is directly affecting what happens in our brain.

So what?

2 things:

Firstly, you can use a change in body language to change your mood when you need to. For instance, I was on my way to a meeting the other day. I was tired and the thought of curling up with a good book at home was quite tempting. But it was an important meeting and I knew I needed to be in the right state to get the most out of it. So as I was driving there in the car, I squared my shoulders and took some deep breaths to open up my chest. In the meeting I consciously sat up tall with my shoulders back and face on to the person I was speaking with. I could sense that adopting some changes in my body language was helping me communicate the confidence I really do have rather than communicating that I was tired and didn’t care that much.

The experience made me wonder if I had been doing myself justice in the past in the way I used my body. Where I had let myself down by not adopting the body language I needed in a situation to communicate effectively?

Secondly, as we practise confident postures, we can actually train ourselves to be more confident.

Watch the video. Amy Cuddy explains it better than I could and it is well worth it.

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Action:

Are you being fair to yourself in the way you present yourself?

If you feel people underestimate you or don’t have confidence in you, this could have something to do with how you unconsciously portray yourself through your body language.

If you don’t typically feel confident, changing your posture can help  you start to change your feelings.

  • Ask some trusted friends for feedback about your body language.
  • Start checking in in different situations on what you are doing with your body
  • Practise some more powerful postures and see how that feels for you.

Join the conversation:

If you agree, disagree or have something to add please share with us in the comments. That way we all learn – and I can see that there are real people out there reading this! :-)

And I would love you to join me on Twitter or Facebook.

 Images used courtesy of orangeacid under Creative Commons license.

 

Comments

  1. What a wonderful presentation! I can see from my own history where I kept taking a deep breath to overcome fears has led to me having confidence in my own abilities. Now I know, I’ll be telling my clients to practice their power poses!

    • It is a great presentation isn’t it! SO simple but it really works. I use it myself and I think if I hadn’t tried it I wouldn’t have believed how much of a difference the techniques make.

  2. I have read your article before and I was flicking through your blog and stumbled across it again. I had actually seem the TED talk before as well. But worth viewing again.
    The important thing for me about the experience of retreading your article and watching the video was NOT doing what teenagers go and say “I know”. The open mind is very powerful.
    Thanks Sue.

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