CAREER ADVANCEMENT / APR. 08, 2015
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The Role Of Power Poses In Your Career

As any student of body language will tell you, the way we stand and position ourselves can communicate an awful lot. There are, for instance, a number of postures that are supposed to communicate power and status. This includes leaning back in our chair with our hands crossed behind our head, and standing with our hands on our hips.

See Also: 10 Power Poses you Should Start Using at Work

Such power poses are believed to stimulate a number of physiological and psychological processes, both within us and those around us. For instance, a Harvard study, carried out a few years ago, found that adopting a power pose can produce a short burst of hormones within us, and was linked to things such as a greater willingness to take risks.

Interestingly, however, a recent study, published by researchers at the University of Zurich, suggests the findings may not hold much weight.  They rebuff the suggestion that adopting a power pose has any influence on our testosterone or our stress levels, and, therefore, doesn’t have any impact on our behaviour at all.

The role of power poses

So if power poses don’t actually change us physiologically, do they have any purpose at all? Well, the authors still think they have value if only in changing how we perceive ourselves.

"This indicates that the main influence of power poses is the fact that subjects realize that the feel more self-confident. We find no proof, however, that this has any effect on their behavior or their physiology," the authors say.

Participants in the study were asked, at random, to adopt various poses.  Some were designed to communicate a lot of power while others were communicating very little. At the end of the experiment, each person was asked to complete a task that involved a degree of financial risk, whereby they were either guaranteed a sum of money or they could take a punt at winning more (or ending up with nothing).

Saliva samples were also taken from each subject to try and determine whether the poses adopted by each person influenced their hormonal levels in any way. One sample was taken before each participant adopted their pose, and another one at the end of the experiment.

The results provide an interesting counterpoint to the original Harvard paper upon which this experiment was built, and sheds some new light on the value of power poses, both physically and mentally.

"Our study is much more meaningful than the original study, as we have much more data," the authors say. "The greater number of subjects in our study makes it much less probable that our results are due to coincidence. Our study is to the best of our knowledge the only published paper that again examines the effect of power poses on hormones."

Is a psychological boost enough to justify striking a power pose? Quite possibly, and the modern world is often a game of small margins, so any gain we can make should certainly be considered.

See Also: Turning Yoga Moves Into Career Moves

Have you ever used power poses yourself in a work situation or in an interview? How did they make you feel? Did they help? Your thoughts and comments below please...

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