Presence | Amy Cuddy

Summary of: Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges
By: Amy Cuddy


Get ready to discover the power of presence with Amy Cuddy’s ‘Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges’. This book summary outlines the importance of body language, authenticity, and core values in effective communication. Learn about imposter syndrome, and how it can cripple your sense of self-worth while gaining valuable insights into overcoming feelings of powerlessness through reengaging with positive experiences. Find out how exercises like the Haka and power poses can instill confidence and empower you in various situations, and finally, uncover the secret to staying relaxed and in control through understanding the nervous system.

The Power of Body Language

The way we communicate goes beyond the words we use. Our body language plays a crucial role in conveying our true feelings and thoughts. A Harvard University study revealed how people with speech comprehension difficulties were better at detecting lies than those without, due to their heightened attention to body language. To be an efficient communicator, it’s essential to match our body language with our words and believe in the message we’re delivering. In the following parts, we’ll delve deeper into strategies for authentic communication.

Strengthen Your Core Values

Self-affirmations may have little impact on our lives, but taking the time to affirm your core values can be incredibly beneficial. This involves writing down a list of things you value in life, choosing one to be your core value, and writing a short essay on the topic. Studies have shown that this exercise can increase resilience to daily stress, improve communication skills, and even reduce stress levels in high-pressure situations.

Conquering Imposter Syndrome

Many successful individuals suffer from imposter syndrome, a feeling of being fraudulent or undeserving of success. Psychologist Pauline Clance coined the term in 1978 and found that it is more widespread than thought. A 1978 study conducted on 178 successful, mostly white, and middle-class American women revealed that the vast majority of them felt inadequate or fraudulent, despite their achievements. In 1993, Clance conducted a similar study with men, which showed that they too were strongly affected by imposter syndrome but tended to keep it to themselves. The syndrome is hard to shake off, but understanding that most human beings experience it can help recognize it when it starts creeping up, especially in stressful moments.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

After being contacted by a woman feeling helpless, psychologist Cuddy identifies the vicious cycle of powerlessness that results in behavioral changes. Psychologist Keltner’s study, on the subject of powerlessness and empowerment, shows how the approach system in the brain gets affected by these feelings. Constant powerlessness can trigger the inhibition system, leading to a vicious cycle of powerlessness. However, recalling an empowering moment that is connected to core values can strengthen the approach system and help one regain a sense of empowerment, thus breaking the vicious cycle.

Powerful Body Language

Body language is a crucial aspect of communication as it reveals our innermost feelings. Expansive gestures such as broad arm movements and big, bouncy steps are seen as indicators of power, while smaller and contracted movements, such as a drawn-down head or tightened facial expressions, are read as powerlessness. The Haka, a dance performed by the Maori people of New Zealand, characterized by empowering movements, illustrates the connection between movement and power. When addressing an audience, open, expansive body language is vital for conveying confidence and authority.

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