Am I out of my mind, making a headline statement like that ?
No, I most definitely am not. And it is not even my statement, in the first place. I am simply repeating a quote from Amy Cuddy, a Social Psychologist. Amy is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, where she studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments affect people from the classroom to the boardroom. And yet it is a powerful statement, one that I am fully in agreement with.
Those who study Non-Verbal Communication and body language, are aware of the fact that non-verbal behaviour and body language communicate feeling – the primary way of expressing our emotions or instinctive reactions. They are more reliable – difficult to fake ! It means we can never Not Communicate, because body language goes beyond words. Even in our silence we communicate.
Amy has put forward an interesting theory, based on her research. Here are some excerpts from her talk:
“So social scientists have spent a lot of time looking at the effects of our body language, or other people’s body language, on judgments. And we make sweeping judgments and inferences from body language. And those judgments can predict really meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote, who we ask out on a date.”
“So when we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others, how they judge us and what the outcomes are. We tend to forget, though, the other audience that’s influenced by our nonverbals, and that’s ourselves.
We are also influenced by our nonverbals, our thoughts and our feelings and our physiology. So what nonverbals am I talking about? I’m a social psychologist. I study prejudice, and I teach at a competitive business school, so it was inevitable that I would become interested in power dynamics. I became especially interested in nonverbal expressions of power and dominance.”
“I notice that MBA students really exhibit the full range of power nonverbals. So you have people who are like caricatures of alphas, really coming into the room, they get right into the middle of the room before class even starts, like they really want to occupy space. When they sit down, they’re sort of spread out. They raise their hands like this. You have other people who are virtually collapsing when they come in. As soon they come in, you see it. You see it on their faces and their bodies, and they sit in their chair and they make themselves tiny, and they go like this when they raise their hand.” (This is so true ! Right, students ?)
And here is what her study was all about – ”
So I started to wonder, you know, okay, so you have these people coming in like this, and they’re participating. Is it possible that we could get people to fake it and would it lead them to participate more? So my main collaborator Dana Carney, who’s at Berkeley, and I really wanted to know, can you fake it till you make it? Like, can you do this just for a little while and actually experience a behavioral outcome that makes you seem more powerful? So we know that our nonverbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There’s a lot of evidence. But our question really was, do our nonverbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?”
The answer is YES ! Not only do I accept the findings of her study as accurate, I also know this to be true from my own personal experiences. Watch the TED Video below to know what this is all about, and I am sure that you will also agree wholeheartedly with her theory and related findings.
Hear Amy talk about her own life-experiences about how your nonverbal behaviour can help you change the way you feel about yourself, even if it means faking it initially. It can help you to become a more confident and outgoing individual. It can help you to realise your full potential, which may otherwise never come to the fore.
As Amy says “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it.”