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Published on February 25, 2020

Does the Power Pose Really Boost Your Confidence (And Why)?

Does the Power Pose Really Boost Your Confidence (And Why)?

Wait a minute, is the power pose a thing again? Didn’t I remember hearing about that from some of my friends a couple of years back?

Well, yes, you probably did. That thing known as the power pose has come back around again.

If you aren’t fully aware of what the power pose is, don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of company. Many people vaguely remember hearing or reading about it but can’t quite recall the details.

The idea is actually pretty cool, and if it can possibly help boost your confidence, then shouldn’t we know more about it? Of course we should!

But, you might be wondering, does the power pose really work? Before we try to answer that question, we should refresh our memories on what exactly it is. So, let’s take a look.

What Is the Power Pose?

First, let’s just look at a quick definition of what the power pose is.

Power posing is a controversial self-improvement technique or “life hack” in which people stand in a posture that they mentally associate with being powerful, in the hope of feeling and behaving more assertively.

Though the underlying science is strongly disputed, its promoters continue to argue that people can foster positive life changes simply by assuming a “powerful” or “expansive” posture for a few minutes before an interaction in which confidence is needed.

One popular image of the technique in practice is that of candidates “lock[ing] themselves in bathroom stalls before job interviews to make victory V’s with their arms.” [1]

History of the Power Pose

The power pose as a concept was first introduced in a paper published in the journal Psychological Science in 2010.

The people behind the paper were Dana R. Carvey, Amy Cuddy, and Andy Yap. The three authors claimed that strong power poses produce actual mental power.

The study included 42 participants who were coached to assume a physical position of power.

Their hormones were tested before and after the posing, and the authors claimed that there was an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol after posing.

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The researchers went on to claim that using power poses can induce lasting hormonal changes, which can in turn lead to positive work outcomes such as successful wage negotiations and job interviews.

The TED Talk

The power pose really came to prominence during a famous TED Talk by Amy Cuddy in 2012. Cuddy, an American Social Psychologist, was on the faculty at the Harvard School of Business when the paper was published.

Her video went on to become the 2nd most viewed TED Talk on YouTube, with over 43 million views to date. [2]

It’s a very interesting talk to watch and well worth the time.

After the TED Talk, things really took off for Cuddy. She became a much sought-after speaker and somewhat of a celebrity in the science world, and she went on to publish the book “Presence” in 2015.

She became the main spokesperson and advocate for power posing and how it can positively affect your performance, primarily at work.

Backlash

The entire power pose concept made a big splash when it was introduced in 2010, and it grew to great prominence after Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk. Then, the backlash against the power pose began.

Of course, many times when a new theory or idea is presented in science, there are naysayers and doubters.

However, for some reason, the adverse reaction to the power pose claim and in particular to Cuddy was more than the usual amount.

There were a variety of factors for the backlash, but the biggest one seems to be the inability to replicate the same results as put forth by Amy Cuddy and her two associates.

This was the case in a number of studies after the rise in popularity of the power pose.

The P-Curve

Much of the controversy also came into question due to a statistical technique referred to as the p-curve.

What is the p-curve?

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Boiling it down to its simplest terms, the p-curve technique is the theory that if a majority of studies in a particular area just barely meet the criteria for statistical significance, then the research itself may not be legitimate and valid.

It could be a sign that researchers manipulated their data or excluded certain data to make their point more relevant, or potentially that they even just gotten lucky.

Some of the science community stated that the findings presented by Cuddy and her two associates did not pass the p-curve, and therefore the findings were not valid.

Hence, these community members claimed, the “power pose” theory was not real.

Does the Power Pose Really Boost Your Confidence?

So, one group of people says the power pose has science behind it to prove it’s true. Another group of people say that science and the studies aren’t valid, so the power pose is simply a fairy tail.

Who is right?

The Science

It’s been written a number of times since the backlash to the power pose that there is actual science behind it.

Cuddy published a paper in 2018 in the Psychological Science Journal that shows extensive evidence that the power pose (now renamed “postural feedback”) is valid. [3]

Her publication examines 55 studies and does demonstrate a strong link between expansive postures and feelings of power.

It clearly shows that people who assume high power postures feel more powerful than those who do not. Then the power pose is real, right? Well, not so fast.

The original publication stated two outcomes from power posing:

The first was that people would indeed feel more powerful after assuming a power pose, and that appears to be true and backed by scientific data and studies.

The other stated outcome from the first publication was that power posing also led to a change in hormones. This is the part of the claim that can’t be substantiated.

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While Cuddy no longer stands by the original claim that power posing will result in hormonal changes, she does still maintain that “postural feedback” is an effective confidence-boosting technique.

The Reality

Things have settled over the last several years in regards to answering the question of whether the power pose really boosts confidence.

The data and ongoing studies have not been able to show that power posing has any change on hormone levels.

So, there is no proof that channeling your inner Wonder Woman ten times a day will lead to an increase in testosterone, making you more effective in negotiating and boosting your confidence.

On the other hand, Amy Cuddy’s most recent studies and publications do show that by assuming a powerful pose, people will indeed feel more powerful and confident.

Therefore, if you want to increase your confidence levels, this could be one way to do it.

Bonus: 5 Ways to Boost Confidence

Finding confidence-boosting tips is of interest to a lot of people. Power posing may work for you, and if so, go for it. Here are a few other ideas to help boost your confidence:

1. Take Care of Your Body

Think about how much better you feel about yourself and your performance when your body is functioning at a high level.

I know when I am feeling run down or sick, I am nowhere near as motivated as when I am healthy and rested.

Taking care of our bodies translates to higher confidence levels because we feel physically up the to challenge. Get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and take care of your body.

2. Be Self-Compassionate

Sometimes it seems to be easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. I used to be very hard on myself every time I made a mistake. I now see making mistakes as a learning opportunity.

When you make a mistake, forgive yourself quickly and move on. Taking a chance here and there and trying things you sometimes wouldn’t have if you were afraid of messing up certainly builds up your confidence.

3. Take Action

Ever heard of analysis paralysis? That’s when you think about something so much it actually slows you down in regards to taking action.

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You get yourself so worked up and feel you have to do more research. Or, you tell yourself you have to think about it a little bit more, or feel compelled to get another person’s opinion before you take action.

Sometimes, simply taking the action without overthinking things will help you feel more confident, whether or not it works out. It’s because you charged ahead and took action.

4. Measure Yourself Against Yourself

One of the biggest confidence-killing actions is to compare ourselves to others.

I hate to break it to you, but there’s always going to be people smarter than you, or people who make more money, or a friend who has a fancier car than you. And that’s perfectly fine.

When we base our definition of success or failure on what others achieve instead of what we want to achieve it’s a no-win situation.

We probably won’t ever be the most anything, but we can be the best version of ourselves — and, most importantly, the version of ourselves that we want to be.

5. Celebrate Your Wins

I don’t know about you, but it seems like I am always going after more. Every year, I want to make more money than the year before. I want to get stronger in my workouts, have more dates with my wife, lead another project at work, etc.

Sometimes, I get so focused on working towards more that I forget to celebrate some of the wins along the way.

When we stop to celebrate our wins, both small and big, we remind ourselves that we are making progress towards things that are important to us. And this in turn gives our confidence a boost!

Conclusion

So, does the power pose really boost your confidence? As we’ve seen in this article, the answer really is, it depends.

There is no definitive proof that a power pose will cause lasting hormonal changes that will increase your confidence.

But there is also that 2018 paper that Amy Cuddy published that includes 50+ studies and does show that there is a link between expansive postures and feelings of power.

If you are looking for ways to boost your confidence, it’s probably worth your time to check out the power pose and see if it can help.

There’s also a wide variety of other tips, tricks, and ideas to help raise your confidence. Pick what works for you and go get it!

Even More Confidence-Boosting Tips

Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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