April 19, 2019

Acting with Power Involves the Interplay of Two Key Strategies

Stanford Business Professor Deborah Gruenfeld discusses the interplay of two key strategies including how to a) show authority, command, knowledge and experience b) open, empathetic, rapport with other people. Some aspects of being authoritative involve taking control other people’s behavior versus taking direction and impressing upon the other your relevant experience.

Key Takeaways:

What are some of the physical body movements to command authority?

  • Make an open and expansive body position
  • Take up more space
  • Make your hand and body movements move into the space of other people

How can your language be used to convey power?

  • Use complete sentences – they can be short or long but have a clear beginning and end
  • Keep your head still

Playing low at times may make you more approachable to build rapport, what are methods to play low and why might you do so?   

  • Playing low may involve:
  • Make your footprint smaller
  • Shrinking
  • Leaning forward

When people want to make an impression, most think a lot about what they want to say. Stanford Business Professor Deborah Gruenfeld cautions you to think twice about that approach. The factors influencing how people see you are surprising: Words account for 7% of what they take away, while body language counts for 55%. There is a body language of power. Gruenfeld introduces the body languages of authority and being approachable. Becoming fluent in matching body language to each situation can be a source of power and influence. Gruenfeld also shares leading social science research on the ways in which body language affects your psychology, in addition to influencing how others perceive you.  Deborah H Gruenfeld is the Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and the Codirector of the Executive Program for Women Leaders. She is a social psychologist whose research and teaching examine how people are transformed by the organizations and social structures in which they work. The author of numerous articles on the psychology of power, and on group behavior, Gruenfeld has taught popular courses on these and related topics to MBA students and executives at Stanford and at Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Gruenfeld joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2000.  Gruenfeld received her BA in psychology from Cornell University in 1983, her MA in journalism from New York University in 1985, and her PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois in 1993.

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