How Your Body Language Shapes You

How Your Body Language Shapes You

Amy Cuddy, a social scientists, focuses on nonverbal human behavior. Our posture, a handshake, an awkward hug, a smirk, and many other things fall under this category. She says our body language is a form of communication. Social scientists have spent a fair amount of time looking at the effect of our body language on other people. Our body language helps others make judgments and inferences about us. An example would be during a job interview. However, we focus a lot on how others are impacted by our body language but fail to look at how we are impacted by our body language. In her research, Cuddy focused on nonverbal expressions of power and dominance. For animals, they make themselves big and take up more space with their body. For humans, something similar takes place. To illustrate her point, Cuddy shows an image of Oprah and an Olympic runner stretching. A power pose is demonstrated by Cuddy in the image below.


Cuddy then focuses on how men and women exhibit different body language and nonverbal expressions. As a professor at Harvard Business School, Cuddy has seen that male MBA students tend to take up more space around their desk area and be more dominant in the classroom. Females find their small space and prefer to be there and only raise their hands slightly, continuing to take up less space. This is not surprising because women feel less powerful than men. She then goes on to compare the minds of powerful and powerless people. In physiology, high power individuals have high levels of testosterone and low levels of cortisol. This is evidence that the body can shape the mind and the mind can shape the body.

Cuddy and her colleagues conducted an experiment where they took a student’s saliva sample, asked them to do either a low or high level pose for two minutes, asked them a series of questions about taking risks/gambles, and then took a saliva sample again. They found that those who did the high power pose were more likely to take risks/gambles. High power people also had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol in only two minutes. This shows that our nonverbal behaviors govern how we think and feel about ourselves. How can we apply to this everyday life?

Answering this question was very important to Cuddy. She found that displaying confident and high power nonverbal behavior is important where we are being judged by others. This can be during a job interview or at a lunch meeting with friends. Since most people experience nonverbal shutdowns during a job interview, Cuddy conducted an experiment where several people were sent to an interview where they interviewers exhibited absolutely no nonverbal clues. The candidates came out very stressed and with high cortisol levels. At the end of the experiment, third party reviewers came in and looked at the videos of the interviews. They only preferred to hire the high power individuals because their nonverbal communication was a lot better. Cuddy tells a personal story of how she faked it until she made it at her first few jobs as a professor and speaker. She says you should not fake it until you make it, but fake it until you become it. Lastly, Cuddy concludes by saying everyone should try a power pose before stressful event and share this science to help others.

Source referenced: TED

Are you using social media during the hiring process? Here’s what to watch out for.

The Statistics:

When speaking with our clients we find that the majority turn to social media when going through the hiring process. 43% of employers say social recruiting has led to higher quality candidates, leading them to believe hiring through social media is the way to go in the future. While social media can act as a great supplement to hiring, it can also act as a slippery slope to civil lawsuits if it is the only method used during the hiring process. A 2012 Social Recruiting survey and 2015 Recruiter Nation survey, both from Jobvite, indicate that 96% of employers use or anticipate using social media as a screening of future employees. Approximately 47% of employers turn to Twitter, 55% use Facebook, and an overwhelming 87% turn to LinkedIn for quick background information on potential employees. In fact, 56% of recruiters find candidates from social media sites and 73% of employers have successfully hired a candidate through social networks. However, how much information is too much information?


Why using social media in the hiring process is tricky business:

There are certain “potential employee” aspects which the law would rather an employer not know before conducting interviews. Specifics include, race, gender, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation. When going through personal social media sites, such information is often easy to find and view. Using this information at any time during the hiring process would violate many anti-discrimination laws. These laws include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). This prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). This protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older; and
  • Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). This prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments.

Here enters the tricky part. Even if an employer does not base his or her decision of hiring a certain individual on the information gained from social media sites, how can the employer prove this? If the individual who was turned down for the job learns that his or her social media site was viewed, he might claim that it was for this reason that he was not hired for the open job position. This claim will inevitably lead to a discrimination lawsuit.

How can hiring employers avoid discrimination lawsuits?

For starters, it is always best to wait until after an interview has taken place to look up a potential employee on social media sites. Even this however does not fully protect employers. So what does?

  • Using an outside screening company which might gather information from social media sites, or using an existing employee to gather social media information is acceptable, so long as the employee is not involved in the hiring process.
  • Only gather information pertaining to education, or experience. Do not gather or utilize any information which is protected under anti-discrimination laws.
  • Include an acknowledgement statement on job applications which allows the employer to access the potential employee’s social media site, for business purposes only.
  • Incorporate a social media process within company policy, explaining the do’s and don’ts of using social media during screening processes and be sure to indicate such a process is used only when determining applicants job qualifications and experience. Also be sure that existing employees are well trained on this matter according to the policy.
  • Always keep copies and records of what information and which sites were used during hiring so that it can be proved that only valid information, which does not violate anti-discrimination laws, were used during the hiring process.

By following these steps, you can help protect yourself and your business from unwanted discrimination lawsuits. The information on Social Media sites has grown at tremendous rates over the last ten years, and can be very tempting during the hiring process, but learning how to filter and organize such information can mean a lot of time and money saved both for you and your business.

Data referenced:

  1. 2012 Social Recruiting Survey
  2. 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey




Business: Be Smart, Be Effective, Be Efficient.

When starting a new business there is always so much to learn and gain, even from the smallest of tips. Working with several clients at the start up of their businesses as well as pulling from my own business experience, I have contemplated and compiled the top 5 methods of increasing your business efficiency without increasing your overhead.

Tip #1: Time is money.

While already having discovered the magnificent benefits of business exposure through social media, taking the time to actually sit down, create posts and publish them every week, let alone every day, might not be an option. Utilize tools such as Hootsuite, or the WordPress scheduled posting feature to draft and schedule your posts in advance. With this, you can schedule, monthly, weekly or even daily posts far in advance in one sitting. This will keep your social media presence alive, as well as your business exposure, without taking up too much of your precious work time. Once you have done this, consider your other automated task options such as billing or e-mailing. Converting such manual tasks to automated tasks will save you loads of time and therefore save you money.

Tip #2: Productive communication.

E-mail has been and still is the most efficient means of communication. From small retailers to large corporations e-mail systems help to keep businesses up to date on business related information whether in or out of the office. Other methods similar to e-mail include social media messaging. Focus on such methods of communication and try to avoid cold calls and door to door selling where possible. Establishing firm, efficient communication through messaging will help your business avoid unnecessary rejection for the messages you receive back will most likely be those of interest, thus helping you find clients without the extra effort.

Tip #3: Grow your business through referrals.

Asking clients for referrals is a simple method of finding potential new clients. Think of this method of approaching new clients as taking an educated guess rather than blindly searching for prospective customers. One way to create incentive  toward gaining referrals is to offer rewards to current loyal clients or those who provide referrals. Rewards can be as simple as discounts or further service. Both methods will improve your client traffic and business services without breaking the bank.

Tip #4: Provoke employee efficiency through your own efficiency.

Always be an efficient leader through efficient time management. Train employees and others to contact you through email versus over the phone. Why? E-mail can be saved, stored, tracked, referred to and is almost always readily available. Furthermore plan out everything and add it to your calendar. Be sure to plan out your entire week in advance. Add everything to your calendar. If something is not scheduled on your calendar, it should not take place. While this takes discipline, politely sticking to this will gain you respect from both clients and employees. Lastly, utilize the cloud. Use tools such as Drop Box or Google Drive. This will allow you to easily access documents anywhere Wi-Fi is available. It also allows you to easily collaborate and share with others.

Tip #5: Be Patient.

Those working in the field of business can attest to the fact that not everything works out the way you want it to. Many times, procedures take time and effort. Such an investment however, given enough time, may yield significant time and money saving results. Be flexible and try new methods and ideas, while weeding out those that do not work for your business.

Utilizing these 5 tips can help your business run a bit more smoothly by saving you a little bit of time and money.

increased quality - speed - efficiency

Guidelines For Professional Conduct | United States District Court, Northern District of California

Professionalism includes Courtesy.

When I was a young, baby lawyer, gentlemanly conduct and professional courtesy was the norm.  Rare was the lawyer who felt compelled to make everything as difficult and unpleasant as possible for no better reason than to, well, make everything difficult and unpleasant.  That kind of conduct did not fair well usually and the source often received a return on his investment that prejudiced his client and tarnished his reputation.

Somewhere along the way, obnoxious and difficult behavior became more and more common until eventually it seems that to some, it was a badge of honor.  In certain jurisdictions acrimony became the norm not the exception.  Nothing good came from this.

Bemoaning this decline in civility among lawyers, many Courts have promulgated standards of conduct designed to guide the deviating lawyer back to the land of professionalism and civility.  Most recently, the United States District Court for  the Northern District of California (San Francisco) has published its own version of such standards.

Guidelines For Professional Conduct | United States District Court, Northern District of California.

It’s a good read and a poignantly reflective reminder for those of us that have always aspired to maintain the highest levels of respectful professionalism how to remain so.



“When to Use Expert Witnesses and How to Find Them.”

We consult with experts frequently in many civil controversies, before, during and after the conflict. Using an expert effectively and also protecting their independence and credibility is of paramount importance in developing a superior litigation strategy. A client’s understanding of the expert role and how it fits into the overall litigation process is also an important ingredient to success. Here is an excellent Primer on When to Use Expert Witnesses and How to Find Them – Bloomberg Law

Deposition Time Limits

California has adopted what has been the long standing federal rule of limiting the time for a deposition to seven (7) hours.

While I would have to admit to have taken, and defended, more than a couple of five (5) day depositions, in truth, I did not learn anything more in five days than I could have learned in five hours if I approached the examination in a calculated and expeditious way.  Indeed, in the last many years I have tended to take fairly quick, cut to the heart of it, depositions, which prove to be as revealing or more as any of the long, grinding, detail by detail, minutia dissecting exams that were so prevalent many years ago, and which survive today mostly by lawyers who are either ill-prepared, or who need to bill a case hard, or both.  Cutting to the chase can be beneficial to all sides and participants in most civil cases.