By Elizabeth Kuhnke

What you think about yourself is true for you and becomes your reality. Whether intentional or not, your body’s movements reflect your self-beliefs. Your subtle and not-so-subtle facial expressions, gestures, and postures reveal how you think and feel about yourself and govern how other people think and feel about you.

Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy’s seminal research into the impact of body language on communication and interactions demonstrates the power of the mind/body connection and validates the connection between hormone levels and behavior. For a simple example, notice how your body expands when you’re feeling powerful and dominant and how it folds into itself when you’re feeling negative and full of doubt.

Professor Cuddy’s research confirms that powerful people tend to be assertive, confident, and optimistic. Abstract thinkers and risk takers show high levels of testosterone, the hormone of strength and power, and low levels of cortisol, the hormone that regulates stress levels. People who are stress reactive and feel shut down experience the opposite, showing higher levels of cortisol and lower levels of testosterone.

The great news from Professor Cuddy’s research is that you don’t have to feel assertive, comfortable, and confident in order to act as if you are. And when you act as if you are, others believe you are.

Standing for two minutes in the superwoman/superman pose with your feet firmly planted in a wide-legged position, your hands on your hips with your elbows pointed outward fills you with a sense of purpose and power as your testosterone levels rise. Placing a pencil in a horizontal position between your teeth, which forces you to smile, also leads to positive feelings.

So, before you venture forth into an evaluative situation, whether it’s giving a pitch, meeting the prospective in-laws or interviewing for your dream job, pop into a quiet room, lock the door, and adopt the superperson pose for two minutes. You’ll end up feeling and looking like someone who means business. And if you really want to feel good and make others feel good too, stick a pencil between your teeth and smile. Just remember to take it out before leaving the room!