It is common to hear how the mind controls the body (like how it gets you to go to the gym) or how the mind is stronger than your body. Without denying that, it is surprising how we know so little about how we can also use our body language to shape how we think, given that we have been using it as a tool to communicate ever since we were infants, after all.

We found a really good TED Talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, who teaches us how our non-verbal expressions can make the best in us shine.


While participating is more verbal than non-verbal, the ACT of participating makes it a way of using your body to communicate. When you’re the submissive type that’s always at the end of the class, getting yourself to fake participation (in every way that’s related) to your surroundings can help shape your mind into thinking (eventually) that you are that better person that you’re pretending to be.

Cuddy admits that when you find (or most likely fake) that confidence of raising your hand high and keeping your chin up while making that rather smart comment gets them to realise your presence of which that confidence eventually becomes you.


So the next time you’re called in for a group presentation, let’s not nudge the person next to you (or conveniently volunteer them) but instead find (or fake) it in yourself to always raise your hands first until it is embedded in you.

Power posing / role changing

Power posing – which literally is its meaning – is a state of positioning your body into a sitting or standing position that makes you feel powerful. As Cuddy says at the beginning of her talk “It is also about opening up and feeling bigger than we really are” resulting with “because when we feel powerful or pretend to be powerful, we are more likely to be more powerful”.

Thus, she recommends power posing for at least 2 minutes to make you feel (not be) powerful as it will eventually help bring more spirit and presence you bring into the speech that will catch the eyes of your audience.


So before you go in for an interview, just take 2 minutes off your hunchback-like sitting position in the waiting area and find yourself a bathroom, power pose superman or wonder-woman and see how you feel right after. No loss there, and hey, it could just land you that job.


When it comes to powerful non-verbals, Cuddy says, it is undeniable related to the male and female gender, the former being the more dominant. She evidently explains that it is the result of key hormones, the testosterones (the dominant hormone) that increases and cortisones (which is the stress hormone) that decreases when a person needs to fulfil a superior position. It’s about maintaining good composure and self-assurance under stressful circumstances. Thus when they make themselves feel powerful, these hormones then configure your brain to be more assertive and indirectly make you feel more powerful.


Say for instance you’re in a socially threatening or evaluative situation, try making yourself feel powerful – by possibly using the above techniques- and see if you’re actually feeling that slight change in mood that helps you deal with the stress while standing your ground.



Posted by Derek Toh

Derek is the founder and CEO of WOBB.CO. He was part of the pioneer batch for the Stanford-MaGIC Entrepreneurship Program, and is also a mentor for McKinsey & Company's Youth Leadership Academy. Derek is on a mission to revolutionise work culture in Asia. He cares about initiatives that improve education and the talent market. Derek is also a big fan of superhero movies, and has been told that he drinks too much coffee during the day.