"Posture doesn’t just reflect our emotional states; it can also cause them," says Amy Cuddy in a recent New York Times Article about the effect that using mobile devices has on our posture. Cuddy is professor at Harvard Business School and presenter of the popular TED Talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who Your Are."
You don't have to be an actor to imagine how you might hold your body if you feel a certain way - depress, stressed, frightened...but this process works in the opposite direction as well. The way in which you hold your body influences how you think and feel.
Let's look at this phenomenon as a loop or cycle. Here are two examples:
1) You think and feel a certain way, which influences your posture and then the posture becomes a habit, which in turn reinforces your habitual thoughts and feelings.
2) You adopt a posture based on ways that you sit or stand for work and tasks that you perform (like writing email on your smartphone), which becomes an unconscious habit that you carry around with you, influencing how you think and feel.
According to Cuddy's article, studies suggest that when we use mobile devices and take on a collapsed position, we become less assertive and productive. Research shows that the smaller the device, the more extreme the effect.
In several prior blog posts, I've offered advice on how to avoid collapsing/slouching when using your smartphone. Click here for a few simple tips. Cuddy's article offers tips as well.
Two further pieces of advice...
1) Limit your time using your device and don't glue yourself to it right before a big interview, audition, meeting, or date.
2) Take some Alexander Technique lessons. You'll learn how to better gauge for yourself whether or not you are collapsing physically and/or beginning to loose your edge and feel less present and confident due to too much time looking down at your iphone. Poor postural habits can cause physical injury, but they can also potentially cost a job, a deal, role, or a second date.
Challenge: Put your smartphone away for several hours before and during a holiday event. Notice your posture and how you feel and interact.