As we continue in the final quarter of 2014, autumn has come and winter overtaken it. We face frosty mornings and frigid nights. We hope that heavy snow will be late to arrive and later still, to stay.
Remembrance Day has passed, providing another opportunity for us to be grateful that we live in a democratic and usually peaceful country, when so many others are ravaged by war, violence and disease.
With such awareness and gratitude, I continue another busy month of writing your marketing and communications materials.
In this issue, I’ll visit one of the most popular TED Talks in history, with insights on self-empowerment; enjoy a delightful “children’s story” that shares truths on business building; have a laugh or two under “Word Nerd’s Corner”; and report sundries, as usual, in my “Shop News.”
Enjoy this issue and Happy November!
CEO, Elizabeth Shih Communications
TED Talk by Amy Cuddy: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” . . . .
Last month, I discussed the recent book, The Confidence Code, which analyzes how overthinking can detract from women’s (and some men’s) confidence, in professional and personal settings. Continuing on the theme of the confidence–here for people of sexes–is Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”
Cuddy, herself a successful social psychologist, grappled for years with a lack of confidence, after as a youth suffering a severe head injury. She acknowledges how our body language affects how we judge others and how they judge us. We also may not be surprised to hear that our body language reflects our own mental states.
What Cuddy finds more interesting and less known is how such “non-verbals” affect how we view ourselves. When we raise our arms wide-open, above our heads; or stand arms akimbo and wide-legged, like “Wonder Woman,” after only two minutes, something revolutionary happens: we feel more powerful about ourselves, more assertive, more confident and ready to meet new challenges. “Our bodies change our own minds,” Cuddy says.
The results and implications of this run deep. For instance, people tend to complement each other’s non-verbals, so that if someone is confident and domineering toward us, we will often (unconsciously) make ourselves small.
The difference is gendered, too, with some women more likely to become “small” when they feel less powerful than men. That lack of power affects classroom participation, academic grades and whole careers. This “gender grade gap” underpins authors’ findings, in The Confidence Code (see October’s issue).
But, more positively, Cuddy found that we can “fake it ‘til [we] make it,” adopting powerful non-verbals for brief periods of time, in order to change our feelings about our own power. Non-verbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves, before they affect how others think of (and treat) us. We can pretend to be more powerful in order to feel that way.
Physiologically, “alphas” produce more testosterone (the “power hormone”) and less cortisol (the “stress hormone”). Vulnerable people experience the reverse. And power is connected to our reactions to stress: the highest-paying, most responsible jobs are optimally held by those who are not easily stressed–the “alphas.” In stressful situations, more highly powered people experience a 20% increase of testosterone and lower powered people, a 10% decrease.
These changes of course have a significant effect on performance, as Cuddy found, by testing people’s experiences of a job interview. In a controlled study, candidates who practiced high power poses had higher testosterone levels than and were consistently hired over their lower powered peers.
Since we can configure our brains to make ourselves powerful, Cuddy advises everyone to “fake it ‘til [we] make it” – to face all of life’s stressful evaluative situations, even if we feel terrified by insecurity. Not only should we “fake it ‘til [we] make it,” she argues, but we should “fake it until we become it.”
While this strategy may not be a long-term one on its own, power posing can reconfigure our brains to have greater power–an especially great insight for those who have the least financial and technological resources to alter the outcomes of their lives.
The next time that you face a performance evaluation, find some private space in which to try on and hold the “Wonder Woman” and other, powerful poses. What results do they yield for you?
From taking baby steps, great confidence can be born.
Nerd Alert! Word Nerd Corner: Jokes and Quotes on (and from) Writers . . .
- “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”
— Oscar Wilde
- “The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application.”
— Ken Kraft
- “Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “I don’t think anybody should write his autobiography until after he’s dead”
— Samuel Goldwyn
(Please share your “funnies” with me via my website at www.elizabethshih.com)
“Children’s Literature” Can Offer Great Business Insights . . .
Sometimes, books categorized as “children’s literature” can share profound perceptions on running a business or realizing another professional dream.
Monica Kreuger of Global Infobrokers and the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship shared one such volume with me, recently–Kobi Yamada’s inspirational book, What Do You Do with an Idea? (Compendium Inc, 2013)
The book tells the story of a child who has an idea that’s different, bold and new. The child wonders whether s/he should hide it, abandon it, or disown it, as others recommend.
As the child’s confidence grows, so too does the idea, yielding an astonishing result.
As one reviewer commented, astonishing ideas just won’t go away and will persist, even if they’re “just getting started.”
This book is a whimsical and beautiful meditation on the power and process of creativity, with remarkable insight and encouragement for entrepreneurship and other life ventures.
Add it to your Christmas gift list for someone special who may benefit from its stirring power.
Shop News . . .
I continue to enjoy participating in a mentoring circle of businesswomen, organized by the non-profit organization, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WE).
To its members, I’ll present a talk on the e-newsletter as a powerful B2B format. The mentoring circle’s smart, energetic and ambitious members offer thoughtful community. Thanks to organizer Lori Jestin-Knaus for hosting each meeting.
About Us . . .
Since 2011, Elizabeth Shih Communications has provided B2B marketing and communications services on the Prairies and across Canada.
Do you need help writing your “marcom” materials? Please contact me through my website, via the CASL-compliant email form, on each page, at www.elizabethshih.com.
Once I have received your permission, I’ll be delighted to discuss projects with you!
I help small- and medium-sized businesses create e-newsletters and related documents that secure good clients. Please visit my website for more information (www.elizabethshih.com).