Finding Confidence When You Really Need It

Whether you’re, CEO, HoD or Joe or Mary Soap, we all have stressful situations in our lives where we could do with that extra dollop of confidence. Going up the hierarchy, perhaps you need to ask a favour of your boss; going down the hierarchy, perhaps you need to confront a recalcitrant employee and call them to book. And if it’s not a courageous conversation you need to have, you may be going for a job interview, or having to give a public speech.

Whether you’re, CEO, HoD or Joe or Mary Soap, we all have stressful situations in our lives where we could do with that extra dollop of confidence. Going up the hierarchy, perhaps you need to ask a favour of your boss; going down the hierarchy, perhaps you need to confront a recalcitrant employee and call them to book. And if it’s not a courageous conversation you need to have, you may be going for a job interview, or having to give a public speech.

Is there anything you can do to prepare yourself so that you go out there and make it count?

Professor Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist at the Harvard Business School who has done considerable research on emotions, power and the effect of social stimuli on hormone levels. What she has discovered is remarkable. She has found that what we do with our bodies, changes our minds. And it is so simple.

Have a little experiment with yourself.

Stand as though you are anxious. Notice what your body is doing. You’ll probably observe that your head is bowed, your shoulders closed in, your weight is likely to be on one foot, and you will have slouched over your belly somewhat.

Now stand as though you are so confident, you own the world. What is your body doing now? Your head is likely to be square, your shoulders open, your weight evenly distributed on both feet, and your belly will have lifted.

So the mind impacts the body. BUT, Cuddy has found, the body can also impact the mind. And, with consciousness, we can through choice, control the body.

The stance we choose, actually has a chemical effect on our body which in turn affects our state of being. As Amy Cuddy says, Our bodies change our minds. Our minds change our behaviour. And our behaviour changes our outcomes.

This is huge: You have the power in your body to shape your world.

Here’s how it works. Testosterone is the “dominance” hormone, the key chemical for Power. Cortisol is our stress hormone. To prevail in stressful situations, we want high Testosterone and low Cortisol. By assuming what Cuddy calls power poses, we can get the desired chemical result in our bodies in just two minutes!

So, prep for your stressful situation. Find a quiet space, even if it has to be the bathroom. Stand like Wonderwoman for two minutes.

Now go knock ’em dead!

Enjoy the full TED talk.