Tools for energy

Aug 16 • Ilona Nurmela • Comments: 0
Yesterday, during an all-day negotiations training for some über smart attorneys we discussed how best to prepare for negotiations mentally and physically, not just procedurally and content-wise. I think it’s time to talk about power posing as tools for energy.

Have you ever dreaded going into that room, with your opposing counterpart or boss waiting for you and them being reknown for high energy if not outright aggression? How about feeling completely depleted of energy during meetings or even social interactions?

There is something that you can do to get your energy up quickly.

If not in a meeting - raise your hands in V-shape above your head. Yes, very YMCA, but bear with me. Hold them there for at least 60-120 seconds. Just count seconds in your head. Feel your heart starting to pump blood faster so it would reach your fingers. Feel your circulation improving. Feel life returning to your veins and brain. Feel better? Good. You can do that before meetings, e.g. skip to the loo for 2 minutes and no one will notice anything irregular.

When you are completely by yourself, e.g. on the phone to someone the conversation with whom is sapping your will to live, then lean back in your chair and put your feet on the table. If you can manage the balancing act, put your hands behind your head. Feel yourself relaxing and waking up.

If you are in a meeting and feel slightly down or stressed - put your hands on your hips. Yes, another 60-120 seconds. If that would seem strange, stand up and lean onto the table with your hands in the downward V-sign. If that would be too conspicuous, stand up and walk around a bit, explaining that this is to improve circulation in your legs or just ask for a break and skip to the loo to do the V-sign.

Simple, right? This is called power posing. It helps not just with power-upping but also to counter stress.

You want the science? In short, the same way that the neural impulses in our brain are telling our body to do things, our body by doing things can trigger chemicals and responses in our brain as well. It works in both directions. Simply put, by ACTING confident, just by going through the gestures, we can trick our brain into rewiring itself so that we feel we ARE confident. For the longer (21min) story, please see Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on how our body language shapes who we are:

We can rewire our brains because of neuroplasticity, i.e. we can teach ourselves to do, be and learn anything. Neuroplasticity is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. All you have  to do is keep repeating the experiences. Usually, new habits form in 21 consecutive days. New modes of thinking might take 3-6 months, which is why coaching relationships usually last that long - you are learning how to rewire your brain and stick with it, which is a series of processes. The beauty of power posing is that as long as you remember to do it, you don’t need to wait 21 days or 3-6 months for the results, you get the results in 1-2 minutes, i.e pretty much immediately.

Next instalment will be on tools for calm.

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