I lead a busy – albeit boring – life. As an under-30 Vice President in the agency world, I’ve spent a lot of time on my personal brand, and creating a career of confidence. But I’ll let you in on something not-so-secret: I don’t really believe in the “power pose.”
Non-verbal behavior, as social psychologist Amy Cuddy dubs it, can be telling, sure. But does it tell all? That’s where I’m not so sure.
In relationships — both business and personal — we read into body language — a limp handshake, stiff posture, blank stare — to assess a person’s character.
My goal isn’t to discredit, or even to offer a head-on challenge to the highly credentialed work that Cuddy has done. I do believe, though, that we don’t focus enough on the verbal communication of power in business.
Communication skills are age-agnostic. Some of the most seasoned business people I know have vocal quirks that, if I didn’t know them as well as I do, might spark skepticism about their abilities. Filling sentences with “you know” or “um,” awkward inflection or vocal breaks, and reciting facts as questions — these are mostly breakable habits that can impact a professional impression.
So perhaps it’s not about achieving the perfect power pose, but instead, finding the pose and other nonverbal cues that best complement, enhance or correct your verbal communication skills.