1. Don't hunch over your smart phone before an important meeting
Hunching over your phone before a meeting or presentation may be self-defeating, because it forces the user into a low-power pose, according to a recent study led by Maarten Bos, then a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard Business School.
Participants were assigned to complete several tasks on one of four gadgets – a hand-held device, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer. Then, the researcher tested subjects’ willingness to interrupt another person – a power-related behaviour. He left each subject alone in the room, saying to come and get him if he didn’t return in five minutes. Subjects who worked on the hand-held device waited significantly longer before interrupting him, compared with those on desktops, and some didn’t come out at all, suggesting their low-power posture sparked feelings of powerlessness.
Before important meetings, leave your phone in your bag and channel Wonder Woman.
2. Switch your focus to get what you want
When you’ve adjusted your body language, take the attention off yourself and switch it on to the other person, says psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, author of Confidence: The Surprising Truth About How Much You Need And How To Get It (Profile Books, £9.99).
‘We may be worried about our own performance and anxieties, but the trick is to focus on what the other person wants. Ask lots of questions to establish what you can do to help the person you seek to influence to reach their goals. Understand the desires and challenges of your boss and create solutions. Your currency is how useful you can be.’
Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of No One Understands You And What To Do About It (Harvard Business Review, £14.99), adds: ‘To really get the attention of the most powerful person in the room, you’ll need to let them know how you can help facilitiate their continuing, increasing awesomeness.’
3. Strike a pose
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on body language and how it affects how others see us has been viewed 24 million times. Her research found that participants who sat or stood in a high-power pose for just two minutes, resembled powerful people after just two minutes.
They felt more willing to take risks, presented ideas with greater confidence, performed better when in demanding situations, and experienced increases in testosterone, a hormone linked to assertiveness, and decreases in cortisol, linked to stress.
In other words, two minutes of ‘power-posing’ prepares the brain to function well in high-stakes challenges.
Try a Wonder Woman pose. Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips. Or sit with your legs in front, feet propped up on a desk, leaning back, with your hands on the back of your head, fingers interlaced, and elbows out.