Last year I watched this TED Talks video about body language (I really recommend you watch it when you have the time):
I decided to try it out the next day. I was co-leading a staff meeting in the morning and as people walked in, I sat on a stool and struck a casual “power pose.” I kid you not, two different people asked if I was filling in for the principal, even though he was three steps away (no one noticed him because he typically has a hunched, shuffling posture that avoids eye contact). Then after school I was in a small meeting with a few teachers and I leaned back and put my hands behind my head as they walked in. One teacher asked if I was leading the meeting, even though the Assistant Principal was right next to me (and she doesn’t let anyone lead anything).
Thus I decided, this “fake it till you make it” body language totally works.
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve faked (or really just elaborated) a lot of things to keep climbing my way up. That’s right; I’m a phony. Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert in something I’m not, but I make sure to listen (and listen hard) to those around me who are experts so I can glean their wisdom.
I live by the “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” mantra. I consider that a little bit of faking it. Research proves that the sound of heels on a tile floor communicates power, and if you know me, you know I wear heels a lot. It’s not just a fashion statement.
I’ve made an effort to surround myself (personally and professionally) with people who are successful. If you only hang out with old stoners, just face it, you aren’t on a path to the up and up. This doesn’t mean I’m using people for their success, I truly find successful people more interesting (and why wouldn’t you?).
Also, here’s a terrible “faking it” trick: when I’m in the waiting room for a meeting with someone “above” me, I bring my iPad and have it open to the Wall Street Journal or Huffington Post or New York Times. I make they get a look before I put it away. It’s terrible, but I’ve had more than one person compliment me on my choice of reading material.
To take this one a little further, whenever I have a meeting or a training at another site where I know people will see me drive up in the parking lot, I take my husband’s Mustang. It’s shallow, I know. But several years back I was stuck in traffic and I noticed a woman next to me in a Jaguar and thought to myself, “I wonder where she’s going; she’s probably a high powered lawyer, or has some rich husband.” Ten minutes later, we pulled into the same parking lot, and she ended up being at my meeting. I was like, That woman is LEGIT. (And by the way I found out later that she did not have a husband, let alone a rich one).
Today I got confirmation that I will be teaching a graduate level class in the summer with my colleague, Angela. Not only that, my new principal asked me to fill in for her later this week (when she’s only known me a month). Yeah, that fake it till you make it stuff really does work.