When talking about power, many quote Machiavelli, “It is much safer to be feared than loved”. Really? Does muscle and intimidation wield more power than respect and persuasion? In the article, “Power Paradox“, Dacher Keltner explains three commonly accepted myths about power.
- Myth number one: Power equals cash, votes, and muscle: The term power evokes images of force and coercion. But there are many exceptions to this definition: My stay-at-home petite Asian mother controlling everything in the home, or a penniless toddler crying for candle in the checkout line of a grocery store. New psychological research has redefined power, and this definition makes clear just how prevalent and integral power is in all of our lives. In psychological science, power is defined as one’s capacity to alter another person’s condition or state of mind by providing or withholding resources—such as food, money, knowledge, and affection—or administering punishments, such as physical harm, job termination, or social ostracism. This definition de-emphasizes how a person actually acts, and instead stresses the individual’s capacity to affect others.
- Myth number two: Machiavellians win in the game of power: One of the central questions concerning power is who gets it. Researchers have confronted this question for years, and their results offer a sharp rebuke to the Machiavellian view of power. It is not the manipulative, strategic Machiavellian who rises in power. Instead, social science reveals that one’s ability to get or maintain power, even in small group situations, depends on one’s ability to understand and advance the goals of other group members. When it comes to power, social intelligence—reconciling conflicts, negotiating, smoothing over group tensions—prevails over social Darwinism.
- Myth number three: Power is strategically acquired, not given: A major reason why Machiavellians fail is that they fall victim to a third myth about power. They mistakenly believe that power is acquired strategically in deceptive gamesmanship and by pitting others against one another. Here Machiavelli failed to appreciate an important fact in the evolution of human hierarchies: that with increasing social intelligence, subordinates can form powerful alliances and constrain the actions of those in power. Power increasingly has come to rest on the actions and judgments of other group members. A person’s power is only as strong as the status given to that person by others.
In today’s corporate world, there are those who still view power more from an Machiavellian mindset, and others from these new social science perspectives. If you want to be an empowered leader (manager), I would recommend reading the whole article.
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In the last post, I emphasized EMPATHY for a successful negotiations. Today, I want to take that further to say that “empathy” is important in almost all forms of human interaction. DDI Global, a leading management training group, identifies five key principles to effective communication with your employees:
- Maintain or enhance self-esteem
- Listen and respond with empathy
- Ask for help and encourage involvement
- Share thoughts, feelings, and rationale
- Provide support without removing responsibility
As I’ve tried to incorporate these key principles into my daily interactions, I’ve received the best feedback from the first two principles. These two are applicable regardless of who you are communicating with, and can be used everyday.
Maintain or Enhance Self-Esteem: People need to feel respected and have a sense of self-worth. When they do, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. When maintaining or enhancing self-esteem, make sure to be specific and sincere. Don’t leave any doubt in people’s minds – make sure they know exactly what you’re recognizing. Sincerity is also critical. People can quickly spot false praise, so don’t offer a complement if you don’t honestly mean it.
Listen and Respond with Empathy: Listening increases your understanding of how others feel and is a powerful way to build trust and improve communication. It’s only when you respond with empathy, however, that people know you understand both how they are feeling and why. The following tactics are effective ways to use empathy in communication:
- Defuse negative emotions
- Show others that you care
- Respond to both facts and feelings
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“Empathy” is one of the most important abilities a human can possess. It’s a trait that is not equally bestowed on each individual. However, each individual, in general, can train themselves to be more empathetic.
In business or personal negotiation, empathy plays a critical role. Most of us have heard that “in a successful negotiation, everyone wins. The objective should be an agreement, not victory”. To effectively reach a win-win scenario, one must first understand the perspective of the other side. Many negotiations are not collaborate because one side is too focused on its own objectives, and doesn’t value the other perspective. These are competitive negotiations, which may be acceptable when buying a car, but not appropriate in most work situations.
As an executive, I have some form of negotiations almost everyday with employees, clients, vendors, and partners. I go into a negotiation with a general plan for my objectives and what I believe MIGHT be the other’s main goals. However, I really try to listen, not only to the words, but also to the tone of the voice and body language. This helps me to empathize, or try to be in the other person’s shoes. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person’s perspective, but you have to understand it. And in understanding, geniune empathy will naturally occur, which in turn ususally makes the other person more empathetic to your views. Verbally acknowledging the other person’s concerns or issues as valid doesn’t weaken your position, but rather strengthens the dialogue.
Many times, I would go into a meeting somewhat angry about what I presumed were the position/motives of the other person. But if I’m honestly listening to them, I usually can empathize with them. Most people are reasonable, but our emotional reaction to incomplete information tends to be from a “worse-case scenario” perspective. We ususally believe the worse without adequate information. Then, we get emotional, which makes a matter personal, which leads to an irrational position.
Some empathetic ways to improve your negotiations are:
- Do not make the negotiations personal. Stay focused on the issue.
- If the other person is emotional or taking the dicussion personal, let them have their say, don’t cut them off. Most people will stop themselves if you stay calm and engaged.
- Repeat in your own words the other person’s point, it will help you empathize and show willingness to listen.
- Try to explain your objectives using some of their words, or from an angle of their perspective.
- Stay focused on a good win-win scenario, and resist temptation to be greedy.
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Haha. I’ve been called a “banana” by some Asian friends. A banana is an Asian who is yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I really didn’t know how to feel about that. While browsing the web, I found “stuff white people like“. Hum, I really might be a banana. I thought of buying a Toyota Prius this year.
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At ZeroDash1, educational background in mathematics, statistics and/or economics are highly valued. As a web analytics company, the ability to analyze information and find patterns in human behavior is crucial. Most of the companies that drive the local economy are looking for the same type of a person.
Today, the state of washington public education system is failing in effectively teaching math and science. The unacceptable math WASL scores in our state is a harbinger of very difficult times ahead.
The local economy is becoming more and more powered by technology. Over time, this area will attract those with good educational backgrounds in mathematics and sciences. These people will have high earning power driving the cost of living up. At the same time, a statistically significant portion of the local children will be unable to fill these types of jobs as adults. Eventually, local children will grow up and only be able to work in the service sector for these more educated workers, or will have to move away from the area. The gap between the “have’s and the have not’s” in the Puget Sound area will become more pronounced, causing unfortunate social conflicts, including increased crime.
We need to change our attitude about math in schools. We worry about literacy rates, but not enough about our ability to teach math and sciences. It must start with parents. There is no such thing as a “math gene”. We all have the capacity to learn and enjoy math. Washington state public schools must fix its very poor math scores — otherwise, the repercussions to the society will be wide and deep. There are some grass root organizations devoted to improving the situation, one of which is “Exploration in Math”. There are others. Get involved.
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When we started discussions about forming a web analytics/SEO consultancy, we naturally brain-stormed about possible service and product offerings. Even more dominate in our conversations, however, were thoughts about the kind of company culture we wanted to build.Sure, we recognized that as more and more marketing spend moved to the interactive medium, the need for effective and relevant measurements on digital campaigns would become increasingly critical.
Yet, even prior to detailing a business plan around this opportunity, we wanted to employ a few concepts from “Good to Great“. We hired the “right” people before committing to the “what” of our service offerings. We were convinced that our ideas and focus would change over time in the fast-evolving world of interactive marketing. We would eventually figure out our “sweet spot” as long as we had the right people in place. We wanted to build a team of experts and critical thinkers who shared a passion for measuring marketing campaigns and positively effecting ongoing performance of such campaigns. Of course, we also wanted individuals who had a client-centric orientation.
At the same time, the founders committed to a culture of humility in leadership, as well as a culture of steadfast “WILL” for success. We were determined to execute on our objectives for the company.
Et voila, ZeroDash1.
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