Amy Cuddy, by Elsa Vulliamy:
People who struggle with a lack of confidence or are naturally shy are often the same people who sit bunched up, make themselves small and occupy as little space as possible.
The Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy has a simple piece of advice to make such people feel more confident and assertive.
Dr Cuddy is known for a TED talk she gave in 2012 about the significance of body language on confidence and success in the workplace or classroom.
Her research alongside Dr Dana Carney shows that by assuming ‘power poses’ such as the ‘wonder woman’ (where you stand with your feet, wide and your hands on your hips) or poses that take up a lot of space (like the typical ‘man-spread’) will alter the hormone levels in your brain after just two minutes and make you feel more confident, more powerful and less stressed out.
This behaviour is especially common in women: “Women are much more likely to [sit in low power poses] than men,” says Dr Cuddy “Women feel chronically less powerful than men, so this is not surprising”.
“Men carry themselves in much more expansive ways on average.”
“It’s middle school when you start to see your daughters collapse and wrap themselves up and hide.”
The problem is that the process works both ways: not only does feeling powerless make you assume ‘low power’ poses, but these poses are also going to make you feel powerless.
So what can you do to break this vicious cycle?
If you struggle with feeling stressed, powerless or under-confidence in your everyday life, Dr Cuddy advises you work power poses into your daily routine – and this begins as soon as your alarm goes off.