In a fascinating study* of body language, researchers recently experimented by placing a group of men and women into high-power and low-power positions for just a mere two minutes, and subsequently measured their testosterone and cortisone levels. What they discovered was that hormone levels actually changed – simply with a change of stance.
When the participants raised their level of presence – with increased energy, in more expansive positions – their testosterone levels rose and cortisone levels decreased. When the participants, sat or stood in more contractive positions with closed limbs – for just two minutes – their hormone levels moved in the opposite direction.
The results of this study make for a fun read, and certainly provide for good fodder to consider for your next important meeting. How will you enter the room? Where are your shoulders? Where are your hands? How is your energy and/or presence projected? As you settle into the meeting – practice taking ownership of the space around you, conscientious of keeping your body language expansive. Your motions should be outward, and not inward – for example avoid enclosing your limbs, or touching your hair or clothing. We’ve known for a long time that only 7% of our language is verbal, with the other 93% attributed to our body and emotional presence. This recent study grounds this knowledge to an even deeper level.
Practice envisioning the space around you, and the energy that you project. Consider how it feels when you close your body in, and contrast that with opening up that space around you. As you begin to experience this spectrum, you will learn to project a new positive glow, bringing with it a new brightness in your ideas, thoughts and visions. It’s time to project all that you can be!
*Amy J.C. Cuddy of Harvard Business School, Dana R. Carney and Andy J. Yap of Columbia