Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two minutes can do THAT? How your own body language impacts your self-image and invites others to treat you, with an FHE idea.

We had a family home evening about a very simple thing that can bring great results.  

It's based on a Harvard study I heard about at a recent public speaking seminar. The study was done by Amy Cuddy. In the study, participants first had their saliva tested, and then they held a certain pose for two minutes. 

  • One group held a weak pose. What do you imagine a weak pose would look like? Think hunched shoulders, weight on one leg, looking down, frowning, hands clasped together or arms crossed and closed in, or maybe in the pockets. 
  • The other group held a strong pose. Think shoulders back, chin up, looking ahead, smiling, tail bone out, arms to the side or on the hips or reaching out. (Images from Amy's Ted Talk.)

Check out these two amazing results. 

After only two minutes of holding their pose, the participants had their saliva tested again. And then went in for a fake job interview. 
  1. The people who used a strong pose had more confidence hormone and less stress hormone. The people who held a weak pose had less confidence hormone and more stress hormone. 
  2. Which people do you think the job interviewers wanted to hire? The people who used power poses! 
WOW. This is a very simple and very powerful concept that can change people's lives. Changing your body language can impact your brain chemistry, your own self-image, how others see and treat you, and your success in life! 

Most of our communication is non-verbal, and people's subconscious minds treat us differently depending on the body language we use. Also 

Here are three true stories that show how this works in real life. 

The first story is about a teenage boy who came home from school one day and asked his mom why the kids always pick on him. 

This mom had learned about how body language invites people to treat us in certain ways so she invited him to change one thing: change the way he stood at his locker. Rather than standing with his weight all on one leg, she invited him to stand with his legs shoulder width apart and weight on both legs. She didn't even talk about arms, shoulders, eyes, chin, or smile; just the legs. He came home from school and essentially said, "Mom, I hate it when you're right." By the end of the school year he told his mom he didn't want to change schools again because he had the most friends there. Isn't that amazing? One simple change in his body language and people started treating him differently. 

The second story is about Amy Cuddy, the Harvard professor who did this study was in a serious car wreck as a 19-year-old. 

Image from Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk
She had been intelligent and even gifted before, and from the brain injury, suddenly she was told college isn't for her. She worked hard and finally graduated from college, taking longer than her peers but she persevered. Then one graduate professor had faith in her and vouched for her to enter a graduate program at Princeton. The first week she needed to give a 20 minute speech to 20 people. She felt so out of place that she went to the professor and said she was going to quit because she shouldn't be there. The professor said in essence, "No, you're not going to quit. You're going to fake it until you make it. You're going to act like you're strong and you will keep faking it until you are." 

It wasn't until this woman became a new professor herself at Harvard that a new student came in saying the same thing, "I don't belong here. I need to quit." The professor was struck by the fact that she herself didn't feel that way any more, even though that was her experience every day at the beginning of graduate school. Not only did she fake it until she made it, she had faked it until she became it. Wow. So she looked at that young grad student and told her the same kind of thing, "You do belong here. You're going to fake it. You're going to act strong until you make it, and until you become it." (Forgive if I got the details wrong. I watcher her Ted Talk only once and wrote it from the best of my memory. Feel free to watch it here.)

The third story is about my husband Mike, an attorney. 

Picture from Mike's Lawyer Facebook page.
Until I learned about these body language concepts in the past several weeks, he hadn't been consciously aware of it, but we've recently had several conversations about how his body language and confidence impacts a judge, a jury, or other people in his profession. He intuitively knew that if he started his court case with a weak posture and voice, people wouldn't trust him or believe what he had to say. So he holds himself with a strong pose with shoulders back, chin up, looking people in the eye, using large arm gestures. He has had people tell him after watching him in court, "I believe you more." 

My husband asked our kids to imagine Joseph Smith having his experience in the Sacred Grove, seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ. He asked how we imagine those two standing and speaking. Can you imagine them hunched over, acting like they were hiding or embarrassed of their message? No way! I picture them standing tall, confident, being who they truly are, and sharing their message of truth with full confidence.  I asked the kids to picture President Uchtdorf using a weak pose. Can't do it. He also carries himself with strength, confidence and power, inviting others to trust and follow him as a leader. 

We want to listen to a speaker or follow a leader who comes across as confident because our subconscious trusts that they know what they're talking about and where they're going.  

Wanna try it? I invite you to do an interactive family home evening lesson. 

Everyone hold a weak pose for 60 seconds and start saying the thoughts and feelings they're experiencing. Take a moment to write down that list. Then everyone hold a strong pose for 60 seconds and share what thoughts and feelings that brings, and write down that list. 

Here are the words my family listed after doing the weak pose:
  • hopeless 
  • sad 
  • picked on
  • why? 
  • pain
  • crabby
  • weak
  • agitated
  • I can't do it
  • unempowered
  • lonely 
Here are the words my family listed from doing the strong pose:
  • happy
  • content 
  • strong 
  • confident
  • it feels like you're true self 
  • feel more open and loving to others 
  • empowered 
  • I can do this
  • hopeful 
  • I want to be with people 
This was really eye opening for my family that simply the way they stand and smile can affect their thoughts, feelings, and mood in such a dramatic way after such a short time. Didn't the Lord say that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6)?

Then as a family, do an experiment for one week. 

Picture from  Today's Creative Life
For two minutes every morning -- you could even do this while brushing your teeth -- hold your body in a strong pose. Do your best to smile and hold the non-brushing hand out in a large gesture while holding your chin up, eyes looking ahead, shoulders back, and legs steady. Just two minutes a day. Or double that and do it both times while you brush your teeth each day. And then write down what you feel and think, and jot down any differences you start to notice in your life. 

After a week, meet together as a family and discuss the differences you've noticed. I bet you'll be grateful that you now know about a small but powerful way our bodies and minds work that can bring an improvement in thoughts, feelings, moods, and results. 

FHE Idea: Here's how we did it.
  1. Invite everyone to stand and do what they think a weak pose would look like.  Ask them to make their shoulders, legs, hands, chin, eyes, and mouth look like a weak pose. Time it for 60 seconds, and during it, ask people to start calling out what they think and feel doing the weak pose. Write down that list.
  2. Then do the same thing but with a strong pose. Write down the list of thoughts and feelings. 
  3. Then I told the stories, while standing in strong poses of course :), of the Harvard study, the teenage boy, and the Harvard professor's car wreck and faking it.
  4. We discussed our thoughts and feelings about it. That's when Mike shared about how he pictures Heavenly Father and Jesus using strong poses rather than hiding behind weak poses. 
  5. Then invite everyone to do a seven day experiment by holding a strong pose for two minutes every morning and evening, perhaps as they brush their teeth, and watch for any shifts in their thoughts, feelings, moods, how others treat them, how they feel about themselves, and their results. 
I didn't know much about how our body language impacts us or others before learning from Kirk Duncan

I recommend you attend one of Kirk's 3 Key Elements events or listen to one of his audios. "Building a Mind of Steel" is a great audio to start with.  


Shiloh Winn said...

This is a great post, Becky! Is so inspiring and I love the idea of teaching body language as an interactive family home evening!

Becky Edwards said...

Thank you Shiloh! I love it when making a small adjustment can produce big results. :)