The power of a “Power Pose”

How much space do you take up? No, we’re not talking about oxygen or your belongings. Literally, when you stand or sit, or enter a room, how much space do you take up and how do you convey that to others?

This is one of the tenants of “Status” – a tool Improvisers use to communicate, influence, empathize, and… play. Status is present in our every day lives and asks us to consider how we act, talk, and feel along a continuum of submission to dominance.

We can choose our status. It is ever in flux. Choosing our status can help us gain the confidence to own the stage.

Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School does a wonderful job of teaching us how to play with status, how being more mindful of status and body language helps shift us neurologically to act the way we want to feel.

Want to learn how? 

Or watch her TED talk, here.

A power pose is one way. What else triggers you and helps you act the way you want to feel?

How to act the way you want to feel – a lesson in status

Act the way you want to feel. Fake it til you make it. Maybe you’ve heard these phrases before and shook your head with skepticism.

I’ve been coaching a new client on bringing more conscious awareness to his everyday behaviors – teaching him new tools that align mind and body to increase confidence.

Acting the way you want to feel, can start with awareness of your non-verbal behaviors. To improvisers, and comedians we often come back to STATUS.

Status is a combination of body language, reaction, tone of voice, and intent. Our status is in constant flux – and can be lowered or raised by other people, places, or even objects.

We all have a default status. But to be flexible, adaptable, and growth-oriented is to realize that status is a choice, it’s a performance, and a learnable skill – and we can work to make these performance choices more conscious to help us achieve our goals whether it’s a sale, a job interview or even a date.

In this great presentation from Pop Tech, Professor and researcher Amy Cuddy breaks down scientific research on status power poses. How much space do you take up? And what if there was a simple trick you could do before interviews or important presentations that would help you act the way you want to feel.

Take a look:


TOOL: Choosing how to play the “scene”

When we think about a basic framework for how and why to apply the tenants of Improvisation to life off of the Improv stage, we can start by discussing the word “performance”.

Whether or not we are used to thinking of it this way…the truth is, we are all performing every moment of our lives.

If this seems daunting or strangely unsettling, you’re not alone.

Luckily, we can use the tools of Improvisation to create more conscious performance choices, (tailored for each stage or scene) to achieve more authentic, successful and meaningful interactions.

Learning and acquiring these skills allow each of us to build a toolkit of performance choices – that we can use to become more adaptable, flexible and aware in the moment.

Here are some basic tips that can help you when thinking about the performance choices we make all the time:

  1. Be present – practicing mindfulness, and the ability to read a room and pick up on non-verbal cues allows us to tailor our performances for the appropriate stage
  2. Remember the power of “status” – be aware that the choices we make in our behavior, our tone, or words, and our non-verbal communication can elicit powerful shifts in status dynamics between people.
  3. Make your performance partner look good – remember that we are often not alone on the stage. Being able to effectively communicate and collaborate with others has an obviously large effect on the overall performance of the team. Use active listening, a “yes,and” mindset and a give-and-take approach to allow space for others to achieve their performance goals.
  4. Know your objective – in each scene, we want to know what our characters objective is. Knowing our objective, “our want”, allows us to adjust and adapt our choices on stage depending on how close we are to achieving that goal.

If this blog post was beneficial to you, who can you share it with to continue the conversation?