Corridor super heroes by Pauline Balba — Creative Commons

One of the challenges the Navigator faced when he started public school was that he did not see the non-verbal communication from his peers and teachers.

Subtle changes in facial expression, body language, even tone of voice were sometimes lost on him and reading them did not come intuitively.

Then came the moment when he realized there was a whole level of communication going on around him — his classmates were communicating in other ways besides words. He did not understand it and it frightened him.

Through his special education speech and communication curriculum he learned how to read non-verbal communication, enough that he can more effectively connect with his teachers and peers.

He still sometimes recognizes that there is a depth of communication that he has not yet mastered, and that still sometimes makes him uncomfortable. That discomfort can be hugely magnified when he goes into high-stress social situations.

We recently started online school, which means he is doing his classwork on a computer at home, but he still gets to go to his old public school for special classes, like music.

Because he is no longer in a regular classroom setting, joining his peers for music class makes him feel out of place and very anxious: Everyone was staring at me for the entire class.

When I posed another possibility, he admitted that maybe not everyone was staring at him and that it was his own sense of feeling out of place that led him to feel like there was a spotlight on him.

Still, even though he may have not read the non-verbal communication perfectly, his anxiety was real.

So how to help him feel more comfortable going to music class? Maybe doing a power pose for two minutes before he goes to music will help.

In her 20-minute Ted Talk called “Your body language shapes who you are” social psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy explains that engaging in power poses can help reduce stress, and change people’s perceptions of us when we are in socially stressful situations.

In short, using our own non-verbal communication to increase our own confidence.

This idea is really interesting:

This could be a valuable tool that he can use for the rest of his life.

Every time the Navigator faces what Dr. Cuddy calls a “social evaluative situation” — that is, where he feels like he is been evaluated socially, such as going to music class — he can do a power pose beforehand to reduce his stress and even present more powerful body language to others, enabling him to go into social situations with more confidence.

We are definitely going to give it a try.

Dr. Cuddy also asks that people share concept so that others can benefit from it — Dr. Cuddy, consider it shared!

Have you tried power poses to help you reduce stress in social situations? How has it worked for you?

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