The New Power of Body Language

In our young professional world, it’s pretty common knowledge that slumped posture and crossed arms are a dead giveaway of one’s lack of self-assuredness, and that eye contact and a raised chin help to portray an air of confidence. But beyond these bodily basics, new research now shows that in addition to revealing a certain outward impression, body language can also be used to influence our inner selves; that we can actually manipulate our emotions with our physical body positioning. Check out these Notable tricks to help you not only appear happy and confident, but to truly feel it from the inside out.

Power up
According to recent research out of Harvard business school, holding your body in expansive “high power poses” for a short period of time can actually help release higher levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for feelings of power and dominance. Additionally, taking positions such as standing over others, putting your feet up on a desk, your arms behind your head, or using a whiteboard as a means to expand your arms (and all those other boss moves) not only raises testosterone, but also lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. The reason why holding the body in these ways causes such different hormonal responses is due to some very animalistic instincts. Making the body small by crossing your arms or legs displays a sense of vulnerability, a desire to shield the body and its vital organs. Making yourself big, on the other hand, by standing tall and expanding your limbs, particularly in others’ space, shows no fear and thus puts you in a more powerful position. So before stepping into a big meeting or taking on a new challenge, take two minutes to practice some power poses. By using your body and posture to take up more space, make yourself feel large and in charge – you can control not only how others see you, but how you feel about yourself.

Cheer up
Another cool body language trick that’s useful for young professionals is one that researchers now claim is not really a trick at all, but another work of biology. A variety of experiments, old and new, continue to show that consciously putting a smile on your face, even when you are not really feeling it, can help develop feelings of genuine happiness. The face acts to reinforce our emotions; when we are upset and we frown, that frown strengthens those negative feelings. Alternatively, if we smile, even insincerely, during those sad moments, we can actually help to ease that discomfort. It is no surprise then that more recent studies have suggested that smiling while trying to undertake a tough task can actually make that task feel easier (and as a bonus, we also appear to others as though that task ain’t so tough at all).

Another fun result of the fake smiling trick is that it’s contagious. Even if you are feeling low, that fake smile will lead others around you to smile. When you have a whole bunch of happy people around you it makes it much harder to frown. While it may feel awkward or even dishonest at first, we’ve tried this “fake it till you make it” method and know that it only leads to good things. So give it a shot and see for yourself.