The Power of Powerless Communications

The Power of Powerless Communications

Post from: MAPpingCompanySuccess a previous post about givers, takers and matchers and who gets ahead I linked to an article about Wharton professor Adam Grant, who did the research.

Near the end Grant talks about the power of “powerless communication.”

You hear an expert, and when the expert spills coffee all over himself, you actually like him more. It humanizes him, it gives you an authentic connection with him. That’s a lot of the power of powerless communication.

Way back in the early Nineties I read You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University. (Great book; I highly recommend it.)

Tannen researched the differences in how men and women use language and one thing that has stuck with me is that men use language to negotiate status and that not knowing, let alone asking, puts them “one down” the other person “one up.”

Obviously, it’s not 100% applicable to all men on all subjects; moreover, I find many women have embraced the style.

These people always need to be one up and will do whatever it takes to maintain that image.

Personally, I find great amusement watching them work to become influential powerhouses by cultivating their reputations as experts—the kind who would never spill coffee let alone be seen in public that way.

Flickr image credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

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