If you recall March's Editor's Letter, Joel Osteen was one of my main sources of inspiration for the theme, "Looking for Yourself". An insightful piece of wisdom I always keep in my mind now is that you cannot focus on the mediocracy of your life, and expect abundance to come your way. In my fashion, one must always think "attitude before aptitude". One's attitude is an indgrediant to style that steers us towards certain positive or negative opportunities. A confident attitude attracts good fortune. Skimming an old September issue of O Magazine from 2011, I came across the article, "The Confidence Game" by Siri Carpenter.
|"The Confidence Game" in O Magazine, September 2011|
Some examples of the physical changes we make to our bodies that affect our behavior include:
- When you reach upward, its easier to recall happy memories, while reaching down draws negative memories to mind.
- Holding a warm cup of coffee makes us feel more warmly toward others.
- Reclining - a position that physically stifles a "fight or flight" reaction - helps us temper angry emotions.
- Even fleeting changes in our own facial expressions - some so subtle they're detectable only by recording the electrical impulses in muscle cells - provide crucial feedback (a study found that subjects who recieved Botox treatments that blocked their ability to mimic emotional expressions were subsequently poorer at recognizing other's emotions.)
"THE FACT THAT SIMPLE POSES CAN HAVE SUCH AN IMPACT IS EXTRAORDINARY," SAYS CARNEY, NOW A PROFESSOR IN THE BUSINESS SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BERKELEY. "THEY APPEAR TO FLIP SOME INTERNAL SWITCH, MAKING THE WORLD SEEM BETTER, BRIGHTER, EASIER." ALTHOUGH RESEARCHERS DON'T FULLY UNDERSTAND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES AT WORK, WHAT'S CLEAR, SHE SAYS, IS THAT THE CHANGES ARE INTERNAL. "IT SEEMS TO BE ABOUT HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF TO OTHERS. BUT ITS REALLY ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE YOU."
It turns out that in the "body language of power", when people strike a "power pose", they precieve themselves as being physically stronger and taller than they really are. In other words, if we percieve ourselves as powerful, so will others. In my fashion, confidence is what makes us all most attractive. If you aren't feeling confident, maybe a change in posture will alter your mood. Read on, after the jump, to learn about how pyshcologist, Deborah Gruenfeld, PhD, teaches how by maintaining the full range of nonverbal language, one will automatically approach situations with a flexible mix of confidence and humility.
Like many other species, humans tend to behave in either a dominant or deferential manner - a preference that's determined by some conbination of our personality and ingrained expectations about where we belong in the social pecking order (expectations conferred by gender, class, birth order, geographic origin, and so on).
In Deborah Gruenfeld's executive education class for women called, "Acting with Power", the aim is to help women shed the automatic physcial habits that go along with those roles.
START: Warm-up Exercises:
- Stand tall, close eyes, take deep, slow breaths.
- Jump up and down, shake your arms, swing your hips, blow raspberries, make kooky faces, alternately sticking out your tounge and scrunching up your nose (all the while huffing out husky ha-ha-ha sounds from deep in your belly.
- Experiment with a deep voice. "You don't want Mary Tyler Moore," she squeaks then drops her tone an octave: "You want Diane Sawyer."
Carpenter reveals at the end of the article that doing the above exercises in a private space helped her right before having to assert herself with her daughter's softball coach. Doing these exercises help to, as Gruenfeld says, "Shake off her context." When one practices this exercise, Gruenfeld says "you are freeing yourself from the way your body reinforces your presumed place in the social hierarchy. When Carpenter and her business exec classmates were acting silly and kooky, any semblance of hierarchy in the room had evaporated.
I implore you to read the second half of the article that describes how the rest of Gruenfeld's class is conducted to help business execs become more assertive. In my fashion, Gruenfeld's teaching methods are very interesting, in that she has her students participate in role playing with each other. One person acts confidentely dominant, while the other acts in a more deferential manner.
During the role playing scenes, Gruenfeld and her co-teacher interrupt the participants at various times to instruct the pair to change, or slightly alter, particular parts of their bodies to demonstrate how non-verbal communication changes the dynamics of a conversation. By pushing her students to their extremes in role playing, Gruenfeld's goal is to help people experiment with a range of behavioral styles, from the most dominant to the most deferential. Just as important as learning how to play high is recognizing when to play low, by tempering displays of authority with self-deprecation and humor.
To fully develop one's full range of nonverbal communication, instead of adhering to a long mental checklist of "powerful poses", Gruenfeld's advise is to pick 1 or 2 nonverbal techniques to focus on, such as:
- Keeping your elbows on the arms of your chair (rather than against your sides)
- Making direct and sustained eye contact
- Using a lower, more authoritative voice
If you can do 1 or 2 of those things consistently, she says, "The rest of your psychology will catch up.