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Tonya Reiman

Body Language Expert

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Sajid Javid is the latest Conservative politician to appear to do the Conservative “power pose”.

Recently appointed Home Secretary, he pulled the slightly odd looking stance outside the Home Office itself.

The pose has a bit of a history, with George Osborne and Theresa May both being photographed doing it during the 2015 party conference. David Cameron later did the same thing during a referendum debate – much to the confusion of onlookers.

i spoke to Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language, The YES Factor and The Body Language of Dating, and a specialist in body language.

Are these power poses?

“It does appear they were attempting to look powerful.  However, this is what you would do in order to get mentally prepared (this has since been declared questionable).”

“[American social psychologist] Ann Cuddy had discussed poses to stand in BEFORE you were going out on stage and her research claimed that standing in an exaggerated power position for two minutes (such as widened legs) would lead to higher levels of testosterone (dominance) and lower levels of cortisol (stress).

“If they were attempting to look more powerful, they failed as their legs were sprawled too far apart. When attempting to appear confident, it is important to have a slightly wider stance to take up more space.”

Do powerful people often stand in a pose, and does it work?

“Powerful people have already mastered this pose and know the appropriate spacing – i.e., legs should not pass the shoulders.

“When done correctly, it is quite powerful.  We do tend to see those who are willing to take up more space as more dominant and therefore typically more powerful.” David Cameron during a referendum debate (Sky News)

What is a textbook powerful pose – one that actually works? “

A dominant individual stands tall with their neck elongated and legs shoulder width apart.”

“They keep their chest out while their back and shoulders stay straight. They occupy more space than other’s which demonstrates their confidence. Their gestures are open (no folded arms) and strong and they keep their arms closer to their body (no flailing). Their face is relaxed and they smile when appropriate.”

“[As for walking they] tend to walk slightly faster and wider than average (demonstrating they have someplace to go). This type of walk allows others to perceive energy and confidence as well as a go-getter personality. As they walk they keep their chin and chest out while their back and shoulders are straight.”

What did you think when you saw it? Did you laugh?

“I thought they were either practicing the mental aspect of this tool or participating in a game of sorts.” “It appears to be an attempt to display dominance that was (hopefully) misunderstood.”

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