Strike a pose: How body language can improve job success

by Betty Lochner on February 19, 2013

Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes. ~ Ann Cuddy, Harvard University  Professor and Pychological Science Researcher


I’ve written a lot about body language and common communication mistakes.  Paying attention to eye contact, facial expression, and your  tone of voice are all very important, but what about paying attention to your body position?  Research shows it can have a huge impact on how you communicate with others.

Social psychologist and Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has done research that demonstrates how changing your body position can actually change the chemistry in your brain  by changing your testosterone and cortisol levels. More testosterone means, roughly, more confidence. More cortisol generally translates into higher stress. She found that “high power poses” increase testosterone and inhibit cortisol, while “low power poses” do just the opposite.

Cuddy describes high power poses as body positions that are open.  She discovered that people who assumed high power or open positions for several minutes before a simulated job interview were more likely to win over the interviewers and be offered a job.  Their body language displayed confidence, professionalism. empowerment and a likable personality.

Ways we demonstrate high power or open body language includes keeping your arms open,  palms open, looking up, and generally opening up your body.

She also found that people who used closed positions before their interview left the interviewers unimpressed. Closed positions such communicate insecurity and  submission. They weren’t offered jobs.

Ways we demonstrate low power or closed body language is keeping arms crossed or tucked in, head down, and generally closing in your body.

Power Posing:  when you stand in a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel all that confident, you will actually improve your chance for success dramatically.

What we should apply from this research is that through small changes in our body position,  we can change our confidence level and be more successful in our communication with others.  Give it a try.  Next time you have an important presentation,  interview, or encounter coming up take just a few minutes seconds and strike an open power pose.


Betty Lochner Betty Lochner


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

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