Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Correct body language can lead to success

You probably never thought of it but your body language can make a difference when it comes to how you are perceived in your interview; or even throughout your career. Researchers have found that the timid and meek are often overlooked when it comes to getting hired and for career advancement. However, there’s a way you can create a more powerful you; and give yourself the feeling of accomplishment and confidence. What do high level executives and C-level management know that make a difference? In short, it’s all about understanding your body language and how to make it work in your favor.


Based on research done by Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor and Hellman Faculty Fellow in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School, and an article from the Wall Street Journal, simply changing your body position can have an impact on your chances for success. That’s great news for those quiet, soft spoken types. Nonetheless, college students and graduates can also benefit from knowing these tricks.

Cuddy has coined the term “power poses” and explains that simply by changing your stance, body language can change your body chemistry. She goes on to explain that a power pose, called "pride," is innate. People born blind at birth do it when they're victorious in events, even when they've never seen it or been taught to do it. On the other hand, in low power situations, people or animals who are feeling feeble and helpless reflect closed body language; something that reflects negativity and defeat.

What does all this mean to you and your job interview? By understanding how your posture affects your hormones and behavior, your body language can become a valuable instrument in the way you succeed. By practicing a few simple gestures before your interview you can build rapport and reflect that you are a person who is competent and can complete a job on time. Sales people do it all the time. When I worked as a sales executive for a popular television network, we were taught to “mirror” the client’s body language in order to build comfort and land the sale. It’s no secret that people tend to spend money with those they trust and feel comfortable talking with. The same holds true while utilizing a few keys moves before and during your interview. Therefore, by understanding the value of body language, it may just be the thing you need to help the interviewer choose you over the competition.

How does it work? Standing up is a way of saying, “I want to command your attention.” While practicing a "power pose" for a few minutes in private—such as standing tall and leaning slightly forward with hands at one's side, or leaning forward over a desk with hands planted firmly on its surface — it leads to higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These physiological changes are linked to better performance and more confident behavior.

Cuddy also reports that participants who struck power poses for several minutes before beginning a mock job interview received better reviews and were more likely to be chosen for hire — even though the evaluators had never seen them in the poses. Research by Dr. Dana Carney, an assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, reports that power posing before a college-entrance exam can also help improve test scores.

In summary, not only does body language effect how others perceive us but also shapes how we view ourselves. Hunching over a smartphone or a computer may be self-defeating and forces you into a lower-power pose. Instead, next time you prepare for your interview, or get ready to make a presentation, put away the cell phone and take a few minutes to stretch in private. If you can’t find a private area, practice sitting tall with your feet planted firmly on the floor. This forces regular breathing and will lead you to feel under control and ready for action. “Striking a pose” may be just what you need to help you build confidence and get through that difficult interview, land that job or receive that long awaited promotion.