Improve Your Life #29: Fake It Till You Make It

Saturday 18th, May 2013 / 21:14Written by
Improve Your Life #29: Fake It Till You Make It

Some people stand out. They are high powered when speaking to hundreds or thousands of people. Some have physical influence that you can feel when they enter the room or maybe they are really charming. Still others are confident when presenting, acting, speaking, or doing any other frightening stuff.

So, how come these people are so far above other in these situations. Well, most likely they are not. They are just faking it and you are buying it.

Growing body of psychological research shows that the changes that you willfully fore on your body influence your mind to follow suit. As you mind changes your behaviour changes and that leads to real world effects where people perceive you differently.

One of the most feared activities is public speaking (and interacting with strangers). Some surveys have found that people fear public speaking more than death. This is quite reasonable as when you speak publicly you will be mocked afterwards till the end of days. However, when you die, it’s done!

There are two ways you can make your life better by faking it until you make it. First is to change your inner self and mood. Second is to create change that affects how others perceive you. I some cases the two overlap as your better mood will translate to different perception of you by others.

Smile. You can improve your self image by forcing a smile on your face. Some research shows that this works even when people are unaware that they are making a smiley face. Researchers made the participants put the pencil between their teeth so that the facial expression was smiling. It will work even if you don’t believe it found a new study from University of Kansas, smiling will lower your heart rate and stress levels.

Optimism. You can change your outlook on life by changing the thought patterns to less negative thinking( Read how to change negative self-talk). Instead of considering the most horrific and devastating outcomes of the date you are going to, think about what good things can happen and what you can do to improve the experience.

Self esteem. The main problem with us is that we tend to compare ourselves to others and see how fluently everything happens to others. This is a misconception that comes from the fact that we mostly notice exceptional occurrences. We see when someone is really good, but forget the much more prevalent average performances. But consider how often do you see real social failure, it’s actually pretty rare.

We may have a lower self esteem than we deserve because we compare the peak performance of others to our own self-doubt and failures. This is unfair! Stop it! If a teacher would grade students this he would be fired.

I have taken part in the discussions where I have felt that the concepts are just too big for my head. In those cases I’ve tried to concentrate on the bits that I know and act confidently. This is called “impostor syndrome.” As time passes others participants reveal that they are actually on the same level as you are, you realize that almost everyone is a fraud and you fit in just right.

Too boost your confidence just think about the fact that there was a time when nobody in the room had done X.

Body language. A large part of message into the surrounding environment comes from the way we carry ourselves. Do you take up lots of space walk confidently in the center of the room and look people in the eye? We immediately recognize the powerful from the weak. But the trick is that you can fake it and nobody will be the wiser.

It usually starts with the self esteem. You have do something you have never done before. You try to make yourself smaller and become invisible. You are terrified that someone will find out that you are an impostor. But… you are in luck because everybody else in the meeting is thinking about the same thing, how to hide the fact that they are faking something.

Act like you believe in yourself. Just the physical act of appearing confident will make you mentally more confident. And the only way you can beat this is facing the fear until you become the person you impersonate.

Here’s how you do it. Before even going to the meeting or presentation take a few minutes and assume power poses. Below you find the screenshots from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk depicting the most common power positions. Just two minutes using power poses alone made the candidates perform much more confidently on the job interview. That’s all you have to do in the beginning. Two minutes of power poses. alone, before important events.

In one study subjects were asked to assume high power pose standing up with your hands on your hips or low-power pose of touching your neck while sitting and hold them for two minutes. The tests after the 2 minutes showed that participants with the high-power pose showed a 20% increase in testosterone and lower levels of cortisol. Others, who held the low-power poses had a drop in testosterone and peak in cortisol.

  • high-power poses decreased cortisol by 25% and increased testosterone by 19%
  • low-power poses increased cortisol by 17% and decreased testosterone by 10%

Here are 5 high power poses from the TED talk:

high-power-pose-1

high-power-pose-2

high-power-pose-3

When you finally get to the speaking engagement or meeting use big sweeping gestures and open poses that take up space. This will establish your presence and your audience gets the message that they are dealing with a confident person whom they have to pay attention.

The audience is more influenced by how they feel about you than by what you’re actually saying.
This means that the connection with people and presence you have in the room are much more related to the outcome than the awesomeness of your ideas. People underestimate the powerful influence of warmth and overestimate the value of competence.

Combine this with self affirmations and you are on your way to much more fulfilling interaction with other people.

Now, assume the high.power pose for 2 minutes and always do that before important events.

Fake-It-Till-You-Make-It

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Image: Obama Speaks at Henry Ford by Austen Hufford

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