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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Body Language


Your body language shows whether you are a powerful or low-key person.

Powerful people use their bodies to convey authority. The boss who raises his feet over the desk, fingers interlaced behind his head, elbows expansive. There are pictures of presidents in the Oval Office striking this pose while their advisers smile nervously.

Another more subtle way to convey power is the hawk-like posture, leaning toward your interlocutor. In general, the powerful person will tend to occupy as much space as possible.

It was recently found through a lab study that more powerful people—those who make more money or have higher status jobs—reliably show higher level of testosterone, no matter their gender, and lower level of stress hormone cortisol, than people lower on the totem pole.

Researchers at Columbia University tested forty-two shy people, gave them a piece of gum to chew then ask them to put their feet on a desk and then to stand in the hawk-like position. Fifteen minutes later, they had to spit in a tube. The spits were sent to the lab to be analyzed. The results showed that their testosterone has doubled in the short time they spent in the power position.

Conversely the testosterone level dropped significantly when the participants sat with their shoulders slumped or stood with ankles crossed and arms hugging their torsos. These are typical low-power postures.

Are your heroes projecting themselves as power people?

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26 comments:

P.L. Parker said...

Hey, I'm going to try this at work! Great info.

Celia Yeary said...

Mona--very interesting. I think I'm the slumped girl in the chair. Since I and my friends are "mature women," at times we have little sessions to remind each other how to look less aged and more in control. Things that "age" a person: slumping while walking or sitting, walking or sitting with your mouth open, jackets or sweaters pulled too far forward on your shoulders, making the back hike up, leaning on a shopping cart. You can tell I've studied this! Thanks for the reminder-Celia

Barbara Monajem said...

Oops. I've been leaning on a shopping cart since my 20's. :)

My heroes are all powerful men. They never slump, even with relief, LOL. My heroines try their best to be powerful, too, and hide their slump of relief when they can.

Lilly Gayle said...

When I worked for the state, we used to joke: If you want to look important, walk fast as if you have somewhere to be in a hurry, nod slightly to those you meet, and carry a clip board, laptop, or file folder!

Beth Trissel said...

Very interesting, Mona. You got me on the shopping cart thing. My image projection very much depends on my mood.

StephB said...

Very interesting Mona. I would have never thought of posture as an indictor of testorone levels, but it makes sense.

Thanks for sharing.
Smiles
Steph

Mona Risk said...

Patsy, I tried as soon as I read the article about power and testosterone. I wish I could analyze my hormone, but I don't work in a lab anymore. But I think it's true.

For example whe we get a good review, don't we smile, automatically raise our chin and breathe better. I bet our testosterone goes up at that moment. And when we get a bad critique, review or contest result, we tend to slouch in our chair, pinch pour lips, and feel like crying.

Mona Risk said...

Celia--you made me aware of a few things here-- walking or sitting with your mouth open, jackets or sweaters pulled too far forward on your shoulders, making the back hike up, leaning on a shopping cart. Boy I am going to pay attention to these.

Mona Risk said...

Barbara, my heroes too are alpha and my heroines are every bit modern career women.

Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Mona,
What a fascinating study. I'll have to make a point now to stand in a hawk position. I already have a "bad habit" of putting my feet up on my desk.

Does anyone else here ever stand on the shopping cart bar and push off, coasting a little bit? Yes, I need to grow up.

Mona Risk said...

Wow, Lilly, this is good: walk fast and nod. Did I do that when I was working? LOL

Mona Risk said...

Beth,the shopping card is my downfall too. It's so easy to say I'll push it and relax.

Mona Risk said...

Steph, there was an article in the Times. I read it yesterday while waiting in a doctor's office. See, even boring doctor's office can bring inspiration, at least for interesting blog.

Leigh D'Ansey said...

"Pull your shoulders back", "Don't slouch", "Take your hands out of your pockets", "Chin up", were constant reminders from my mother during my childhood. Maybe Mum gave me the gift of looking confident even when I don't feel it. Interesting about the testosterone (my mother's a sweetie, truly).

Mary Ricksen said...

I find myself slouching because of the pain in my back. I doesn't hurt as much if I am a bit hunched over. But, I feel better about myself when I stand up straight.
I am a shopping cart leaner. Couldn't walk far without it! Great blog Mone, very interesting. I think I have no testosterone in me at all!

Lynne Roberts said...

Wow! That's cool! Thanks for sharing. LOL And yes, I'm sitting up straighter now! (also strengthens the ab muscles)

Mona Risk said...

Keena, keep your feet up on the desk. See you are a powerful person instinctively. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Leigh, mother is always right!!! I bet you do look confident.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, on Saturday at the FRW meeting I'll remind you to sit straight.

Mona Risk said...

Lynne, glad my post helped. LOL

Mary Marvella said...

I like this stuff. Gonna try to look powerful from now on!

My heroes do tend to take up more space than they need to, especially when they sit next to the heroine. (grin)

Mona Risk said...

Hey Mary, my hero takes less space near the heroine as he snuggles very close to her. LOL

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Very interesting post. Now I'll paying attention to my posture all the time.

Mona Risk said...

You do that Susan.

Monique DeVere said...

Great post, Mona!

I'm definitely going to keep this in mind when writing powerful heroes. Thanks! :)

Sandra Cox said...

Wow, Mona. This is great information. Wonderful blog.