Many of us dread social situations… parties, family gatherings and special events (particularly those where they don’t yet know anyone).
Perhaps even worse: facing these situations during a job search. Elevator pitches, job interviews, networking events can be very stressful; especially so when you don’t feel sure of yourself.
In the past, many of us practiced a theory of confidence-building we called “fake it till you make it.” But, now, research show there’s a much easier way and more effective way to build your confidence.
Recent scientific research by Harvard Business School professor social psychologist Amy J.C. Cuddy and her colleagues shows that when you act more confident, you not only look more confident, you actually feel more confident. The level of “confidence hormones” in your body can actually increase when you pretend, at least initially, to be confident.
Dr. Cuddy’s research also shows the existence of “power poses” (as shown in the pic above) that actually help you feel more powerful and confident.
As they cross the finish line, the winner of a race throws their arms up into the air, smiling a big smile, and lifting their chins up toward the sky in triumph. Instinctively, even little kids do this without prompting.
Alternatively, remember the Wonder Woman pose: standing triumphantly at the end of a battle she just won with hands on hips, feet apart, chin up. Looking indomitable.
Even sitting in a desk chair, with feet propped up on the desk, and hand clasped behind your head can be a power pose. What ever works for you.
Activating your Power!
Before that next career-related event, spend 2 minutes (at home before, inside your car in the parking lot, or in the bathroom – wherever you have some privacy) and jump into your I-just-won-a-race power pose. Imagine the good moments about to happen… and smile big. Hold that pose for 2 minutes. Your confidence hormones will respond to the pose, and you will be more confident! Feel that victory!
Then, at the job interview or networking event, remember your power pose – stand up tall (or sit up straight if seated). Don’t be afraid to make big gestures and take up space – reach out confidently for that handshake. Speak clearly and with sufficient volume to be heard. Smile.
Here are 6 tips on when and how to leverage your favorite power pose.
1. Before Parties and Family Get Togethers
When you are unemployed, attending parties and family get togethers can be a mixed blessing. Many are sympathetic. Some are not. And some are too sympathetic. Unless other attendees have recently been through the modern process with new technology and intense competition, they might not understand how challenging job search is today. You may hear a lot of well-meaning but out-of-date advice.
Don’t let all that advice and sympathy get to you. Smile and nod, and enjoy the event.
2. Before You Call That Recruiter or Write That Email
When we’re not feeling confident, we can use language that invites a negative response – “If it’s not too much trouble…” ”If it looks OK to you…” ”If you don’t mind…”
Being confident is communicated not only in our conversations, but also in our writing. Try it, and see how it works for you. Don’t be over-confident (“You’d be lucky if I accepted your job offer, toad!”) but avoid inviting rejection.
3. Before Telephone Interviews
When you are getting ready for the infamous “phone screen” interview, prepare for the interview as usual, and also spend 2 minutes in your power pose. Stand up during the interview, and if possible, stand near a mirror – and smile whenever you look in the mirror. You will both sound – and be – more confident. Your smiles will be “heard” on the other end of the line!
4. Before the Face-to-Face Job Interview
Again, prepare as usual for the interview. Then, dedicate 2 minutes in your favorite power pose. Your handshake will be more deliberate. Your eye contact will be longer and warmer. Your posture and hand gestures more assured, as will be your answers. Ultimately, you will their socks off in that interview.
5. Before You Get That Headshot Photo Taken
If you don’t have a nice headshot photo on your LinkedIn Profile and other social networks, it is time to get one. When getting ready to have that photo taken, practice your favorite power pose. When the photo is taken you’ll radiate confidence!
6. At the Start of a Long, Stressful Day
Facing a tough day? Spend 2 minutes in your favorite power pose in the shower, beside the bed or as you enjoy that caffeinated beverage. Want to really crank it up… be brave enough to break into your power pose while in line at Starbucks!
So, fake it until you BECOME it!
And, don’t limit yourself to the 6 ideas above! If you think of other situations where power poses can help you, use them. At the very least, give power poses a try for your big job search moment. Sure, it may sound crazy or kind of corny. But a variation has worked for centuries for probably millions of people (the fake-it-til-you-make-it believers). And, I’ve been trying it out, just on general principle; I feel a lot more optimistic and confident myself.
So, what do you have to lose? Besides the opportunity to impress a future employers?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.