Keeping up with the Science: Power Postures

"Joyous Person at Sunset" by Geralt
“Joyous Person at Sunset” by Geralt

I have worked with  lot of men on how to command respect.  I tend to work with them a lot on posture, carriage, pose, clothing choice, etc., to help them make the most of their nonverbal communications.

(Pro tip: if you just imagine that you are hanging from an invisible wire connected to the top of your head, you will immediately change your posture to the straightest possible.)

Posture is one place where I have been particularly focused in the past. You can communicate a great deal about yourself with how you stand. Moreover, certain postures held for some time can affect your biochemistry. Regular use of the “Superman Pose” (feet shoulder-length apart, back straight, chest forward, chin up) can help boost testosterone if you hold it regularly for a few minutes as a part of your workout.

Posture is also a powerful tool for communication. Where and how you stand can say a lot about your feelings, thoughts, or disposition.

One tool I have not worked with in the past, however, is “Power Poses.” It is one thing to sand as tall as you can, use our stance to deliberately communicate an idea. The Power Poses was supposed to go beyond simple nonverbal communication and basic deportment. The idea was that there are certain poses and posture that activate subconscious programs in others, “triggering” respectful, agreeable, or friendly attitudes.

I’ve been asked about Power Poses several times in session and by readers. I have consistently replied “I can’t really say much about them.” I was not really ready to rule them out, because there really are some simple “brain hacks” you can use that can rapidly change another person’s impression of you. But I also try not to speak or write about topics that I know little about.

But as many of my readers are curious, I thought I would share an article from AskMen on the topic that crossed my feeds, in case they were interested:

Ask Men | Science Says Power Posing Doesn’t Work

The short version of the study and the article can be summed up as: “Power Poses don’t appear to make people rate you as any more competent or capable. People who have a good natural pose and are well dressed tend to be seen as more competent than people using power poses.”

This doesn’t mean that good posture isn’t important; having good posture, being well-dressed, and speaking well still make all the difference in the world. What it does mean is that there are no easy shortcuts or ‘tricks’. A posture that helps create a good impression is the one that comes from practicing in the mirror, combined with carefully cultivated good habits of speech and body language, good clothes, good health, and genuine hard-earned confidence.

2 thoughts on “Keeping up with the Science: Power Postures

  1. Brian, my experience of power poses is that people largely find those who use them quite ridiculous! My former boss used to do it, and everybody in the office used to end up rolling their eyes and strangling laughter as a result.

    1. I can believe that. The thing about almost all methods of deliberately structuring your communications, from Power Poses, to Assertiveness, from various shades of Pick Up Artistry to Mirroring, is that they require a certain level of finesse, improvisation, and empathy to use effectively. If you have none, then you re going to come off as weird, creepy, or supercillious.

      With the tools that work well, like Rapport, Mirroring, and Assertiveness, a reasonable person can get good results by using them along with a modicum of intuition.

      With other tools, like Power Poses, a few people can blunder into results by using them with a great deal care, exceptional instincts, or blind luck… but then, probably didn’t really need them in the first place, except as Dumbo’s feather.

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