How Your Posture Can Help You Feel Powerful at the Office

body languageWant to walk in the hallways at work like you own the place? Want a strut that says, “Look at me?”

Per a piece on Psychology Today, Thaima Lobel, Ph.D., says powerful individuals “stand up.” In fact, it’s been proven in studies that people who stand or sit in powerful poses and also expand in space are perceived as being more powerful.

Researchers from Columbia and Harvard University examined how powerful postures influence how powerful we end up feeling. After dividing subjects into two groups, one group was told to demonstrate power poses. That is, they were asked to stand and then sit with their hands spread out on the table and legs apart.

As for the other group? They were considered low power and were asked to be seated and then stand with their hands wrapped around their bodies or between their knees. Their legs were close together and limbs were closed.

People who displayed high power poses actually reported they felt more powerful. Plus, they took more risks and even gambled more than people in the low power group. Physically, the high power group increased their testosterone levels and decreased their cortisol levels. The piece explains:

“Testosterone positively correlates with dominant (i.e., powerful) behavior while cortisol is a stress hormone. So just standing in the appropriate expanded pose influences how powerful we feel and consequently how we behave while at the same time seems to reduce stress.”

In another study, researchers discovered that postures can influence our behaviors. In one experiment, people were assigned to be a manager or subordinate. Therefore, they were asked to post in expansive or restricted postures. Results showed that when people were in more powerful posture positions, they were more action-oriented and thought more abstractly even when they were assigned a powerless role. What mattered most? Their posture.

So, how does this apply to you? You don’t have to work in a powerful role to feel more powerful. Act as if by standing differently.  Lobel writes in the piece, “Expanded postures will do the job….if you want to feel more confident in a job interview…just assume a powerful pose for a few minutes before entering the room (and use it while you’re interacting). Try to stretch your legs, place your arms on the table and take some space.”