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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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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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