professional associates and colleagues unmoved by your carefully
crafted arguments and assertions? Your body language may be undermining
your spoken message.
an experimental social psychologist at Stanford Graduate School of
Business advises students to spend time learning the implications of how
they stand, sit, walk and how well they grasp the meaning of the way
others move their bodies. Her approach is described in a Stanford newsletter.
Gorillas can beat their chests, run sideways and tear up vegetation to
display dominance, but humans have to develop more subtle tactics to
show they're in charge. They also have to know when it's more
appropriate to appear submissive. Gruenfeld offers her MBA student some
insights on how to deal with authority issues. Because most business
students will need to be both leaders and followers within their
hierarchies, she wants them to understand common interpretations of body
positioning, movements and posture. A person seeking a promotion or
pressing a new idea needs to appear in command, but cockiness maybe
detrimental for a job applicant or a person joining a new group.
Gruenfeld teams up with drama teachers, because actors are very good at
observing and responding to the nonverbal behavior of those around them.
Read about her Acting with Power class here.
has her seated students practice straighten their backs, press their
knees together, keep their elbows at their sides, and lean forward. She
says that position announces, "I am totally in charge." Then she has
them stretch an arm over the back of a chair and spread their legs. That
takes up more space - and that's what high-status, dominant people tend
to do with their bodies. For women, wide spread legs can appear
unseemly, but they can assert dominance in other ways, with gestures and
A Stanford Business Magazine story describes recent research by Professor Larissa Tiedens on
body language and leadership. While people resent verbal bullying,
nonverbal communication of dominance, such as outstretched arms, flies
under the radar - it is less noticed and influences others on a
subconscious level. Sitting on a table, at a level higher than others,
or a severe expression, are perceived as dominant. Raised eyebrows and
parted lips that appear expectant are likely to seem submissive. Tiedens
says she uses her research findings in her work, explaining, "I try not
to stand in a small way." The magazine quotes Gruenfeld as saying
acting helps students use their own voice, body and mind to play a