The Posture of Clarity

Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk” on body language has been viewed 32,728,866 times, more by now, for a reason. This isn’t the same old talk about how your body language affects others. She’s talking about how your body language affects you!

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We all know that a tall posture, firm handshake, and smiling eye contact will make a better impression than slouching and looking down. That’s a no brainer. What you may not realize is how much it changes the way you feel about yourself. Try it right now! Stand tall, shoulders back, breathe deeply, eyes straight ahead, smile. Doesn’t that make you feel stronger, more powerful, more successful?

If not, I’m sure it’s just because you need more practice! (I’m confident because I am standing tall as I write this!) My yoga instructor always talks about confidence and strength in relation to Mountain Pose. I think I’m becoming a serious believer. And Cuddy’s advice to use this pose, preferably with arms stretching up and out, to prepare for an important meeting or speech makes complete sense.

But what I most appreciate from watching this presentation was recognizing my powerless poses. Even while sitting alone at my desk. When I am energized, focused, and determined, I sit up straight. I am powerful and productive. If you walked into the room, my posture would exude uncommon clarity! I’m sure of it! When I am working on a task I dislike or feeling discouraged or worn out, I slouch, slump, and frown. Yikes!

So I tried using powerful poses to inject power and energy into my work when I found myself slouching. And it works! Sitting up straight is like flipping a switch. The determination and clarity both kick in. Immediately I want to know:

  • What am I really trying to accomplish here?
  • How can I wrap this up in the next half hour?
  • What will “done” look like?

And, of course, answering these questions creates clarity and clarity itself creates energy and speed.

When power sitting or standing just doesn’t work, I recommend taking a break. My yoga instructor would suggest yoga or a brisk walk. I’m sure that’s the absolute best advice to clear the brain and get the blood flowing again. But if you promise not to tell, I’ll admit that sometimes coffee is simply more compelling!