Easy Ways Body Language Can Help Teens Feel Powerful

It’s not a newsflash that our body language is doing a lot of the talking for us when we’re in a social situation. But it turns out that your body language doesn’t just change how people view you—it changes your body chemistry in ways that can make you feel powerful and confident. I learned all about this while watching a TED talk by Ann Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School. Most of this fascinating research is being shared with the business community—for example, how to feel in charge at a meeting or ace a job interview—but while I was watching I immediately though of how teenagers could benefit from Cuddy's brilliantly simple strategies. After all, it requires a lot of confidence to spend a day raising your hand in class, giving presentations, trying out plays or just walking into the cafeteria, tray in hand, looking for a place to sit. But unlike business leaders, most teens don’t get a lot of coaching! Cuddy says, [quote style="boxed"]Our bodies change our minds, and our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.[/quote]
I'm empowered just thinking about it!

Here are two great tricks to pass along to teens (both of which I have personally adopted, because who doesn’t need to feel more powerful?)

1. Power posing: Assume the Wonder Woman position with hands on hips and feet apart.

When to Use It: When you have to talk to someone that makes you feel anxious. For teens that might be a teacher, coach, or upperclassman. (For me, that would be talking to my 15-year-old. Just kidding… Kind of.)

Amazing reason that it works: It’s not that the hands on hips changes how others see you, but it alters your own level of confidence (and your hormones), therefore making what you are communicating come out in a more authoritative way.




2. Win-Position: This classic “I’m the first across the finish line” is something that athletes do automatically, but Cuddy suggests doing it before you need to be at the top of your game.


When to Use It: Dip into a bathroom stall, stand as tall as you can and raise your arms in the air before giving a class presentation, taking a test, or taking to the field.

Why it Works: In her studies, Cuddy found that by assuming this position her subjects' testosterone levels shot upwards (confidence booster!) and cortisol levels stress hormone) decreased.

But don't just take it from me. Cuddy's TED talk is also powerful because her own personal back story. I'm not going to give too much away but she did suffer a traumatic brain injury before going on to study the brain.