Striking a wide-legged, straight-backed, confidence-exuding power pose (the way your career coach or favorite magazine told you to) leaves a strong impression. Ask Amy Cuddy, the Harvard social psychologist who has done numerous studies on how body language can actually change the way you feel, to the point of altering your body chemistry. If you stand up straight and take up more space with your body, you increase testosterone in your body, decrease cortisol and physically begin to feel more dominant. Which seems like the perfect stance for making a strong first impression. But it's not the only piece of the puzzle.
This same psychologist has also found that dominating someone is not the best way to gain his or her trust, and that to be powerful in any setting, you need to have that trust. Cuddy recently told Wired, "If you are trusting, if you project trust, people are more likely to trust you." Cuddy notes that people often think, "'I better get the floor first so that I can be in charge of what happens.' The problem with this is that you don't make the other person feel warmth toward you. Warmth is really about making the other person feel understood. They want to know that you understand them." Her suggestion? Project trust by letting the other person speak first.