Make a tough decision
THE TRICK Hold a heavy object, like a paperweight.
WHY IT WORKS Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that when people held a heavy clipboard, they assigned more importance to their own opinions and to the things around them than the people who held lighter clipboards did. Translation: holding something heavy can help you give more “weight” to whatever you’re considering. So if you need to make a call on an important issue, pick up a hand weight to trick your brain into evaluating the situation in a more serious way.
Lower your inhibitions
THE TRICK Put on a pair of sunglasses.
WHY IT WORKS The key here is that covering your eyes makes you subconsciously feel concealed, so you’re more free to do (and say) whatever you want. To that end, research in the journal Psychological Science proved that when study participants wore sunglasses, they actually acted more selfishly than volunteers who wore untinted glasses. Well, now we know why so many celebs wear theirs 24–7.
Prevent a petty fight from escalating
THE TRICK Nod your head “yes”.
WHY IT WORKS On a subconscious level, we associate actions with the feelings that tend to direct them. So if you nod your head, it fools your brain into being more agreeable to whatever it is you’re hearing, according to a US study. On the flip side, shaking your head “no” can make you feel more negative about a person or situation.
So the next time you want to stop a stupid argument from escalating, before it gets out of hand just nod your head as you listen to the person talk – you’ll feel more open and therefore able to find ways to compromise.
Solve a problem, fast
THE TRICK Take a few steps backwards.
WHY IT WORKS In a study from the Netherlands, one group of volunteers walked forwards and another group walked backwards, then they both took a simple test. Turns out, those who first took a step back, performed better in the test than those who took a few steps forwards. The theory? The backwards movement nudges the brain to go into problem-solving mode – it’s like putting the saying, “Take a step back and see the big picture,” into action. Try it the next time you’re stumped.
THE TRICK Sit in an expansive, dominant pose
– any position that takes up space.
WHY IT WORKS When people take on that position, they feel an instant power boost, according to a US study. When a participant used the posture around her boss, she seemed much more influential to others than her boss did, even though she was actually lower on the office food chain. And a separate study sheds light on why. Sitting in a position like the one described above triggers a rise in testosterone levels, making you feel more powerful. At the same time, the pose decreases the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in your system, giving you that calm, got-it-all-together edge.