Tag Archives: power

Power Tactics for Better Negotiation

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani points to research documenting women’s tendency to negotiate for salaries, promotions – and even task-sharing in relationships, less often than men in Pushback: How Smart Women Ask–and Stand Up–for What They Want

Her book offers guidelines to speak up assertively while developing the resilience and “thick skins” many in sales have mastered.

These recommendations echo those suggested in research studies and popular articles, and perhaps more Machiavellian, realistic, and perhaps disconcerting come from one of her endorsers, Stanford University Graduate School of Business Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer.

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer

He analyzes individual power dynamics in corporate hierarchies, and offers recommendations to acquire and use power in Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t 

Power-Jeffrey PfefferIn Rezvani’s book, Pfeffer notes that “Power is about 20% conferred and 80% taken.
Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who ask, negotiate, and push.
For women—or men—to get what they deserve, they must get over the platitudes and attitudes that hold them bac

Pfeffer debunks the hopeful idea that the world is fair and just,  and counsels those seeking to have the power to “get things done” to promote themselves, avoid giving up or delegating power, but instead,  give up the wish to be well-liked.

Because the work world is not fair, Pfeffer says that intelligence, performance, and likeability alone are not the most important factors in advancing in an organization.
Instead, he argues that ambition, energy, and focus drive key power behaviors:

  • Self-promotion and seeking organizational visibility
  • Building relationships, networking, and supporting the immediate manager
    Cultivating a reputation for control and authority by managing information and first impressions (halo effect, attention decrement, cognitive discounting, self-fulfilling prophecy, biased assimilation)
  • Embodying powerful demeanor in speech, dress, posture

Useful skills in acquiring power are:

  • Self-reflection and self-knowledge
  • Confidence and self-assurance
  • Ability to “read” others by empathically understanding their perspectives
  • Capacity to tolerate and remain calm in conflict

Although power is valuable to enable execution and results, there are downsides and “prices to pay” for having and using power.
Often, the costs of power are not fully considered or anticipated by those who aspire to it, so Pfeffer usefully suggests the following drawbacks of power:

  • Loss of privacy due to public scrutiny
  • Loss of autonomy
  • Necessary investment of time and effort that might be spent in other ways, such as with family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, pursuing non-work interests
  • Trust, confidentiality, conflict-of-interest, ethical dilemmas
  • Possible intoxication with power as an “addictive drug”
Kathleen Kelly Reardon

Kathleen Kelly Reardon

It's All PoliticsPfeffer’s Stanford University colleague, Kathleen Kelly Rearson shares specific examples of skillful, modulated application of power in her book, It’s all Politics.

-*How do you ask for what you want at work?

-*What power tactics do you employ to influence your negotiation outcomes?


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©Kathryn Welds


Oxytocin Increases Empathic Work Relationships, Workplace Trust, Generosity

Paul Zak

Paul Zak

Paul Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies at Claremont Graduate Center, and author of The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity, suggests that the hormone oxytocin empathic understanding, generosity (donating to charities, giving money to others in experimental situations), happiness, and trust/trustworthiness.The Moral Molecule

He verified these laboratory-based findings in real-world situations, like a wedding he attended in southern England, prior to which he drew blood samples from the wedding party.

Zak says that oxytocin can be increased by massage, dance, story-telling, prayer, engaging in social media with a loved one, and hugs.
As a result, he “prescribes 8 hugs a day” for better mood and improved “relationships of all types.”

He says that oxytocin can be inhibited by improper nurturing in childhood, stress, abuse, and by oxytocin’s antagonist, testosterone.
Known as the “selfish hormone,” testosterone is also correlated with expressions of power and leadership in the workplace.

One reason women may have challenges expressing these traits in work situations is that their average testosterone levels are ten times lower than men’s.
Zak’s TED Talk

Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy

Related Post:

Thoughts change bodies, bodies change minds, roles shapes hormones: Amy Cuddy on “Faking Until It’s Real”

-*To what extent have you seen “eight hugs a day improve mood and relationships”?

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Thoughts Change Bodies, Bodies Change Minds, Roles Shape Hormones: “Faking Until It’s Real”

Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School social psychologist, like Deborah Gruenfeld at Stanford Graduate School of Business, studies the impact of non-verbal behavior on perceptions of power.

Deborah Gruenfeld

Deborah Gruenfeld

She, like Gruenfeld, found that people who “occupy space” are viewed as more dominant and powerful by others.

See Related Posts:

Cuddy takes the research further by demonstrating that non-verbal behavior like erect, “space-occupying” postures and selective smiling affect the way the person executing these behavior feels about his or her personal power, competence, and mood.

She also demonstrated that “power postures” affect secretion of hormones associated with dominance (testosterone) and stress (cortisol).

Cuddy noted that effective leaders, as well as those recently promoted into positions of authority and leadership show a hormone profile of high testosterone and low cortisol, indicating high dominance and low stress.

Individuals in low power role, not surprisingly, tend to have low testosterone and high cortisol, and this is more common among women.

She suggested that small changes in behaviors like posture can make a large difference in how people view themselves, how others see them, and their opportunities and outcomes.

Cuddy recommends that before a job interview or stressful interaction, assume a “big power posture” in private for several minutes.

-*What is your reaction to people who assume a “big power posture” at work?
-*How do you feel when you occupy more space in professional settings?

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Authoritative Non-Verbal Communication for Women in the Workplace

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman

Carol Kinsey Goman has integrated research on the impact of non-verbal behavior on workplace outcomes for women in two books:

The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help–or Hurt–How You Lead

The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work

She notes that all business leaders need to establish interpersonal warmth and likability balanced with authority, power, and credibility.

Women have been viewed as likeable, but lacking authority, so Goman suggests the following behavior changes:

• Focusing eye contact in business situations on the conversation partner’s forehead and eyes instead of eyes and mouth, which is more appropriate for social situations

• Limit the number of head tilts and head nods, which may signal empathy and encouragement, but may be interpreted as submissive and lacking authority

 Occupy space: Stand tall with erect posture and head, and a wider stance hold your head high.  Claim territory with belongings.

• Keep your hands on your lap or on the conference table where they can be seen to limit nervous hand gestures such as rubbing hands, grabbing arms, touching neck, tossing hair, leaning forward.

  • Use authoritative hand gestures:

o Show palms when indicating openness and inclusiveness

o “Steeple” fingers by touching fingertips with palms separated to indicate precision

o Turn hands palms-down to signal confidence and certainty

o Keep gestures at waist height or above. Drop the pitch at the end of each sentence to make an authoritative statement. Avoid raising tone at the end of a sentence when not asking a question, as this may be interpreted as uncertain or submissive.

• Smile selectively and appropriately to maintain both likeability and authority

• “Learn to interrupt,” advised former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. ”
Like occupying physical space, occupy “air-space.”

• Moderate emotional expressiveness, movement, and animation to signal authority and composure

• Cultivate a firm handshake, with palm-to-palm contact and that the web of your hand (the skin between your thumb and first finger) touching the web of the other person’s. Face the person squarely, look in the eyes, smile, and greet the person.

Goman stated that women generally excel at accurately read the body language of others, and this can be an advantage in intuitively grasping underlying issues in a meeting or during a negotiation.

-*How do you cultivate both credibility and likeability in work relationships?

See related posting on Olivia Fox Cabane’s discussion of non-verbal contributors to “charisma


Deborah Gruenfeld‘s discussion of power non-verbal behaviors

©Kathryn Welds