If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time each day working at your computer, more than likely sitting.
Perhaps you find yourself hunched over and scrunched up tight, more and more as the day goes on – especially if you’re dealing with multiple or complex projects, or you’re on a tight deadline.
According to various news sources in the last year or so there’s a new epidemic they’re calling sitting disease. Indeed “sitting is the new smoking!” It seems pretty clear that there are lots of problems associated with sitting, from back and neck pain and RSI, to excess tension and fatigue. What you may not have considered, though, is that the way you sit could also be affecting your ability to feel confident and effectively interact with others, from running a meeting or giving a presentation, to making that next sale.
If you find yourself sitting hunched over your work, you are effectively in what Amy Cuddy refers to as a “powerless” posture or a low power pose. These postures feature contracted, protective body language. Posture impacts both self-confidence and the confidence you project to others. Being in low power poses for just two minutes has been shown affect both negatively. When we spend hours at the computer hunched over, the effect can only be magnified.
On the other hand, this is what Cuddy has to say about spending time in a more expansive posture:
Expanding your body causes you to think about yourself in a positive light and to trust in that self-concept. It also clears your head, making space for creativity, cognitive persistence, and abstract thinking.
[Presence, p. 220]
Isn’t this what we want when we’re working AND when we’re interacting with colleagues, prospects, or other business owners?
Cuddy’s research, and that of others, has shown that doing high Power Poses (expansive, open postures) before going into a stressful or high-stakes situation can be hugely helpful, and make us more likely to assert ourselves, feel confident, and be more present. However, these are not to be used during the interactions themselves. Indeed they can come across as overbearing, even aggressive, in person, not to mention a little odd….
Fortunately, it’s also been shown that a good, upright posture, sitting or standing, has much of the same effect.
Maintaining a healthy, open and upright posture while you work, therefore, will not only help your neck and your back, but will be better for your productivity, creativity, and the confidence you project to your self and others. HOW you sit makes all the difference on all counts.
Unfortunately the simplistic advice to “sit up straight” that you so often hear is, while well meaning, usually not helpful. And in some cases it can actually be downright harmful. Learning to be naturally upright, in a way that is balanced and supported, upright yet relaxed, can take time, but is ultimately so much more effective, sustainable and comfortable.
Over the next few weeks I intend to revisit in depth HOW we sit while we work at our computer, giving pointers on awareness and mindset, balance, support and ergonomics, among other things. There’s more at stake than well-being (and that’s important enough) – it has repercussions for productivity and self-confidence. It could indeed affect your next sale!
For now I want to leave you with one idea for you to try out:
As you read these words, bring your attention to the space between you and your device – your computer screen, your tablet, or your phone.
Take a moment to visualize this space. Does this awareness changes anything in you? It might be quite subtle. Try it out a few different times, and simply see what you notice. If you find it helpful, you can bring your attention to this “space between” at any time.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you find working at your computer to be taxing physically? Have you ever noticed it being difficult to reorient yourself afterward to social interactions? To be honest, I don’t even know if it is “noticeable,” but I’d be curious to hear if you have.
And do let me know how you like the mini exploration at the end. What did you notice? Was it helpful? You can leave your comments in the space at the bottom of the page.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net