Body Language: Mastering the Art of Powerful Postures

Researchers from Columbia University and Harvard University have found a link among powerful leaders besides pure charisma. The connecting factor is their use of powerful body postures to convey authority.

So how does posture relate to power and authority? A study titled Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance by Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy and Andy J. Yap indicated that males and females express power through expansive postures (i.e. standing or seating with relaxed limbs) as oppose to contractive postures (standing and seating with hands and legs closed). Individuals whose postures are more expansive exhibit higher levels of testosterone, lower levels of cortisol (adrenal glands or pituitary glands), and an increased tolerance for risk. Expansive postures are high power nonverbal body communications that exude confidence, illustrate a lack of nervousness, and demonstrate an individual’s ability to overcome challenges.

With practice, you can use expansive postures to present yourself in a more powerful demeanor and boost  your confidence.

Body Gestures

1. Eye Movement: Maintaining eye contact with your audience reflects confidence and honesty, and makes the speaker appear more experienced. To maintain correct eye contact with a person, visualize an inverted triangle in the person’s face with its base immediately above the eyes; this is the area to look at during discussions. While speaking to a group of people, make eye contact with everyone and not just one person.

2. Hand Gestures: During conversations, use your hands confidently to express sweeping gestures. Utilize your hands to explain or to stress a particular point. However, avoid using them too frequently because they will become distracting.

3. Facial Expressions: A simple smile when you agree can enhance your nonverbal communication skills. Keep in mind that people can recognize even a most fleeting expression such as anger or annoyance, so cautiously manage your reactions when people are sharing thoughts.

4. Body Image: Keep your body balanced and slightly wide by distributing your body weight evenly on both the feet. Make sure that you are on level without bending on one side, and your shoulders are relaxed. These posture techniques illustrate that you are an action-oriented person with exemplified authority and stability.

Practice Power Poses: People that use up more space, meaning those who use open and large gestures, have high levels of testosterone flooding their systems which causes them to feel more powerful. Before a meeting or presentation, locate a quiet corner and stretch your hands and legs in expansive positions in either sitting or standing positions. When you dominate the space around you, your mind receives the message.

Make Powerful Gestures a Habit: It is essential to monitor your body language to evaluate your efficiency in conveying messages. Make it a habit to use powerful postures in your daily routine.

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