Beyonce power posing like a boss
In talking to a lot of my peers about their frustrations with work, most of their complaints boil down to one thing: feeling powerless. You see, right out of college, these highly-educated, highly-competent young professionals are undergoing a hard transition. They are leaving college, an atmosphere where they had quite a lot of control (control over their studies, their time, etc) and entering the workforce--a place where most power and control is earned with time.
Now that I'm no longer a student, I face many stressful situations in my career which I do not have the decision-making authority to solve. How does this make me feel? Pretty powerless. But what's the solution to this feeling of powerlessness? It could be years, even decades before I reach a level in my career where I have all the authority to pursue and execute important decisions on my own.
After many months of trying out different solutions, I came to one that's been working pretty well: convincing myself that I'm powerful. Now, this might sound like some silly mumbo jumbo, but approaching my work with a positive attitude of power has significantly improved the way I respond to workplace stresses that are beyond my control. An integral influence in developing my strategy was Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on body language. In the talk, Amy explores some surprising research that shows that your body language can actually affect your mood and your feelings of personal power. The research shows that adopting a "power pose" (think, putting your hands behind your head, and your feet on the table or another pose that makes your body physically bigger) can help alleviate feelings of powerlessness, making you more confident, calm, and less likely to hyperventilate when faced with something beyond your control. And guess what, it really works! Now when I face something anxiety-inducing at work, I lean back in my chair and stretch out. After a minute in this pose, I feel much better! And much more prepared to elevate the issue to my superior without freaking out.
Want to learn more about power posing? Check out Amy Cuddy's TED Talk!