The relationship between body language and business habits turns out to be a lot more important than most of us would have guessed. Crossing your arms, squaring your shoulders, placing your palms apart or together, and planting or crossing your feet all have a profound effect on your state of mind and your ability to make clear, informed decisions at work.
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist widely known for her TED Talk on body language, has described how “power posing,” standing with a confident posture, can affect the body’s testosterone and cortisol levels to impact our actual feelings of confidence in a given moment—and from there, our ability to achieve success. Cuddy explains that the link between psychological power and various postures of spreading out or taking up space is actually a feedback loop between the body and the mind. In essence, the body has a large say in what state the mind will experience in a given moment.
Rather than focusing on a state of power, I’ve been taught to apply this principle toward a state of mental clarity in order to improve executive judgments. The goal is the same: to achieve real success. To do so by making chains of great, informed decisions grounded in the facts of data and the intuitions arising from lived experience.
Here is an exercise I now teach to anyone who will listen: the next time you’re sitting in a business meeting, plant your feet. You don’t need to exert pressure, but put a little weight into your heels. The act of planting your feet firmly creates a posture of fortitude and conviction, from which comes the energy to listen, connect, resolve, assure, persist, and, ultimately, decide.
This simple act of grounding yourself is one with old roots in both cultural tradition and biology. But without even needing to discover or justify every reason for the habit, I’ve found that planting my feet creates a calm assurance that allows me to be more fully present to the conversations, problems, and opportunities at hand.
We might even go one step further and say that analytics itself is the practice of planting an organization’s feet. The same way that the right body posture supports a clear mind, the right analytics “posture” will clarify our most crucial decisions at work or in marketing, allowing us to make decisions with the right evidence at the right time. When our businesses have their feet planted in analytics, we can connect, resolve, and assure ourselves and our colleagues that we’re making great, informed decisions.
Plus, a business grounded by an excellent analytics practice generates shared insights among everyone at the company. When a business trusts data, data becomes solid ground to stand on and a vantage point for looking into the realities of the business with a clear mind and focused passion, so everyone can begin to drum to the same beat: the mission and purpose of your company—with evidence in hand.