So this past month I found myself listening to “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” during my work commute. It was one of those books I heard a lot about when it first came out. Some people mocked it. Some lauded it. Some people flippantly mentioned it on social media and had me all confused about whether I should be taking it seriously or not (I’m looking at you, Mindy Kaling).
One of my favorite lady-writers Ann Friedman did what she does best and pie-charted about it.
Another notable lady-writer whose opinion I value (Amanda Hess) wrote on Slate about how conflicting author Sheryl Sandberg’s message was. (“Lean Where?: Be pleasant. Be aggressive. Cry in the office. Don’t cry. Sheryl Sandberg’s advice in Lean In is totally confusing.”)
You see, I just had to know for myself. So I read it. I don’t plan on giving a full-blown book review here, but I do plan on sharing one thing that I thought was pretty interesting. Sheryl Sandberg’s mention of “power posing,” or using powerful, confident body language to make ourselves feel powerful and confident, had me really intrigued. It’s sort of that whole “fake it till you make it” thing. Well, I got more interested in this whole idea of power posing and watched Amy Cuddy, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, lead a TED Talk about it (“Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” — June 2012).
In Cuddy’s TED Talk she explains what you do when you power pose: “You make yourself big. You stretch out. You take up space. You’re basically opening up. It’s about opening up.”
And what happens when we’re around overly dominant people: “If someone is being really powerful with us, we tend to make ourselves smaller. We don’t mirror them. We do the opposite of them.”
But the magical thing is: You can change that! Yeah, what? You can change how you behave in situations where you tend to feel less powerful (think job interviews, public speeches, any type of evaluation). Cuddy says our nonverbals govern how others think and feel about us, yes. But, our nonverbals also govern how we think and feel about ourselves. Our minds change our bodies, AND our bodies change our minds.
We had some fun with this concept with #TeamWebComm and a few of us struck some power poses. We even learned some of our co-workers’ special skills (did you know our data analyst Eric James can do a one-armed pushup? I can barely eat a Chipotle burrito with one arm.)
Are you a power pose believer? Has it ever helped you in a stressful situation? Also, are you taking “Lean In” seriously? (For real, I NEED TO KNOW.)
Related Reading: How to Sound More Powerful, via The Wall Street Journal