Presence

For some reason I thought Amy Cuddy had written another book and Presence was her blockbuster follow-up… but I think *this* is the book that captures all her research about power poses. First half of the book is a bit too anecdotal for me – I think it’s a pet peeve. Second half details the results of all the studies that support her research. Excellent.

Some notes:

Anxiety gets sticky and destructive when we start becoming anxious about being anxious. Paradoxically, anxiety also makes us more self-centered, since when we’re acutely anxious, we obsess over ourselves and what others think of us.

We like our distinctions to be clear—it’s a human bias. So we classify new acquaintances into types. Tiziana Casciaro, in her research into organizations, refers to these types as lovable fools or competent jerks.2 Occasionally we see people as incompetent and cold—foolish jerks—or as warm and competent—lovable stars. The latter is the golden quadrant, because receiving trust and respect from other people allows you to interact well and get things done.

I am issuing a challenge to all of us, and it’s one that I do not take lightly: Let’s change it. When you see your daughters, sisters, and female friends begin to collapse in on themselves, intervene. Show them examples of girls and women in triumphant postures, moving with a sense of power, speaking with authentic pride. Change the images and stereotypes that kids are exposed to. We don’t need to tell women to be like men. But we do need to encourage girls not to be afraid to express their personal power. Let’s stop thinking about powerful postures as masculine and powerless postures as feminine.

When we embody shame and powerlessness, we submit to the status quo, whatever that may be. We acquiesce to emotions, actions, and outcomes that we resent. We don’t share who we really are. And all this has real-life consequences.

The way you carry yourself is a source of personal power—the kind of power that is the key to presence. It’s the key that allows you to unlock yourself—your abilities, your creativity, your courage, and even your generosity. It doesn’t give you skills or talents you don’t have; it helps you to share the ones you do have. It doesn’t make you smarter or better informed; it makes you more resilient and open. It doesn’t change who you are; it allows you to be who you are.

… and too many more to post. It’s a great read. Here’s the original TED presentation from a few years ago. I’m surprised when I hear people haven’t seen it… so good.

For another quick and fun read into communication, The Secret Life of Pronouns by James Pennebaker.