Feeling nervous before a big game, public presentation, or interview? Take a few minutes and try Captain Morgan to ease that tension and summon up an extra surge of confidence. But I would recommend doing it in an inconspicuous location, like an elevator, to avoid stares.
I’m not endorsing alcoholic consumption here if that’s what you’re thinking, so you can put the shot glass away. Instead, I’m proposing that your confidence doesn’t lie at the bottom of the bottle, but rather in the confident pose of the pirate on its label.
What I mean is that before an evaluative situation, adopting a “Power Pose” like Captain Morgan’s puffed out chest and elevated leg can increase your level of confidence and improve your performance output. Most importantly, this confidence-boosting life hack doesn’t come at the expense of your liver and only costs a few minutes of your time.
And if Captain Morgan doesn’t float your boat (pun intended), then try another high-power position like the “Superman” or “Superwoman” pose. Just put your fists in the air, on your hips, or crossed behind your head, spread your feet on the ground, and try to take up as much space as possible, as ridiculous as it may look—hence the elevator.
These and other kinds of nonverbal expressions of assertiveness and dominance not only affect the feelings and behaviours of those around you but invariably change how you feel about yourself.
Former Varsity Blues football offensive coordinator and current Acadia Axemen football offensive coordinator Luigi Costanzo illustrates how the reaction to such body language often takes place on the field. “When other teams witness our ability to play an entire game without showing signs of fatigue, slowing down, or negative body language, it would force them to quit playing because they couldn’t keep pace.”
According to UTM psychology professor William Huggon, power and dominance are expressed through expansive spread-out postures while powerlessness is expressed through closed narrower body positions.
And while powerful poses are generally only used by those confident, high-testosterone individuals—think that guy taking up way too much space on the subway—a 2010 study published in Psychological Science suggests that by simulating these power poses for two minutes, you can trick your body into feeling more confident, even if you feel quite the opposite.
“Those presenting these power positions might take on some of the characteristics of those who typically strike these poses,” says Huggon.
In other words, not only does power posing reflect power, but it can also produce it.
According to a study titled “Power Posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance”, two-minute power poses led to hormonal changes such as significant increase in testosterone levels and a decrease in stress hormones, measured by levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. In combination, power posing increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk which subsequently led to better performance on evaluated tasks.
Huggon agrees that this strategy is something that athletes should take advantage of to improve performance.
“Good coaches already do this. Big speeches, firing up their players, getting them to yell and stand up, open their chests and flex their arms, are all forms of power posing,” he says.
Costanzo notes that his athletes engage in the same time of preparatory power posing before a game and it produces positive outcomes.
“We emphasize standing tall, head held high, hands on your hips, and focused breathing. We have used basic visualization techniques in the past with success,” Costanzo says.
And although this super-heroic two-minute transformation may not be as spectacular as something like Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man, mutant spiders are overrated anyway. So go ahead and strike some grand heroic poses, whether it’s Captain Morgan in the bathroom stall or a Superwoman in the hallway.
There are less than zero reasons why you shouldn’t give this experiment a try. Whatever stress-inducing situation you may be in, whether it’s a job interview, a first date, or before checking your grades on Blackboard, these two minutes of power posing can help instill some artificially induced confidence. In other words, it effectively allows you to fake it until you make it.
In fact, practising power postures may even leave permanent changes on your levels of confidence and lead to more success down the road. So in other-other words, you might even fake it till you become it.