Your posture says a lot about muscular balance. It is a visual representation of how well your muscles coordinate with each other. That’s useful information if you’re a paleolithic guy or gal running around on the plains, but it’s also useful information for job seekers and business people negotiating deals in conference rooms.
Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Illinois found that undergraduates who were posed in “expansive” positions — arms extended and one leg casually crossed over the knee — scored higher on variables measuring their sense of power, abstract thinking and willingness to take action than their peers posed in “constricted” positions, with hands under their thighs, dropped shoulders, and feet scrunched together.
That’s right. Physical positions of constriction actually constrict you mentally and emotionally. Your ability to think creatively and take action decisively are hampered by your inability to position your body properly.
This is something you can easily test on yourself. In fact, you’ve probably already tested it on yourself.
If you walk into a room with your shoulders rounded, your head and neck jutting forward, and your tail tucked under, how do you feel? How “in control” do you feel of a situation when you’re in that posture? If you feel out of control and a little fearful, it’s not a coincidence. In fact, if you are able to adopt a more expansive, powerful posture (and many successful business and salespeople know this), you can change how you feel.
…power poses change functions in the endocrine system. Testosterone levels increased in both men and women, and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) declined after subjects had been placed in “expansive” body postures…
You can actually position your body for less stress. How’s that for a cheap stress-reliever? How much of a benefit would that be for you when you’re trying to make a sale or land a promotion? How would it change your life to be able to relax at the end of a long day just by positioning your body properly?
Well, not only does your posture affect how you feel about yourself, it affects how others feel about you.
When you see someone walk into a room in a constricted posture, what is the impression you get of that person? How likely are you to willingly take instructions from someone who looks like they are too balled up to even breathe properly? How likely are you to hire someone who looks like they’re a frightened, wounded animal? Not too likely. And that’s the point this study makes:
…job seekers and frustrated middle managers trying to get ahead during the recession might want to size up their body language before asking for a new position.
Though muscle imbalance might keep your body from speaking the language you want it to, it’s important to remember that you can retrain your body to be able to reduce stress, expand your creative mind, and help you take decisive action.