Let’s Get Physical

08.08.2016 |

Episode #3 of the course Scientifically proven ways to increase your influence by Vanessa Van Edwards


We couldn’t talk about influence without exploring power.

And the way I like to talk about power is through body language. As you get to know me, you will find I LOVE talking about nonverbal research.

Studies show that at a minimum, 60% of our communication is nonverbal—and some studies have found it to be up to 93%!

We communicate power nonverbally through our facial expressions, body language, and voice tone. If you want to be influential, you have to use 100% of your abilities. You can’t just rely on your words alone.


The Research

Researchers at Harvard Business School wanted to know if body language could affect other’s opinions of us. The answer: A resounding YES!

To test their hypothesis, the researchers had two groups of participants conduct mock job interviews. They had the interviewers rate the participants on overall performance, hireability, and speaker presence (like being passionate and warm). While one group simply went into the interview, the other group had to pose in power body language for two minutes before walking into the interview.

Power body language does in fact make you more influential—on multiple levels!

Across countries, across cultures, across sports, there is universal body language of pride. Research done by the University of British Columbia studied blind and seeing athletes around the world. They found that all athletes made the same body language expression when they won a race—even blind athletes who had never seen anyone do it before. The body language of a winner is classic. Arms and hands above head, mouth open, face pointed up towards the sky exclaiming in triumph. Sadly, losers also have a unique body expression. We do not learn this expression by observation, we are innately programmed to do this when we lose. Losers roll their shoulders in, hang their head low, make a pained or sad expression and clench their hands into fists of defeat. It looks similar to a balloon deflating as the air, adrenaline and excitement leaves the body it wilts in sadness and frustration.


The Solution

Use power body language to up your power. You can use power body language to influence others and also feel more influential yourself. Use pre-power poses before going to an important event, meeting, or date to increase your testosterone levels and feel more confident.

Pre-power poses are all about taking up space and claiming territory.

3.1– Take up as much space as possible.
– Lift your arms to the sky.
– Try implementing movement by dancing or listening to music.
– Think of your body inflating like a balloon (an awesomely cool balloon).

You want to avoid low-power poses with crossed arms and legs.

3.2– Avoid tucking your chin to your chest.
– Avoid crossing your arms across your torso, lap, or chest.
– Avoid rolling your shoulders in.
– Avoid tight leg crosses.

When in interactions, use ideal power poses to show, feel, and exude confidence.

3.3– Keep your arms loose and by your side (so they aren’t tightly against your torso).
– Keep your forehead and chin up and level.
– Roll your shoulders back.
– Leave your body unblocked (don’t cross your arms or legs).


Your Challenge

My challenge for you is to test your current body language skills.

Most people have no idea what their nonverbal behavior is saying. Take our body language quiz and find out: Body Language Quiz.


P.S. I’ve got three more power body language moves for you! Watch them here.

P.P.S. Want to channel your inner leader? Check out our post on body language for leaders.


Recommended book

“Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition” by Robert B. Cialdini


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