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  • People are going to decide if you are competent or not in less

  • than a hundred milliseconds,

  • and then it's over.

  • So, I can trace my interest in this topic

  • back to something that happened to me in the 1980s.

  • Before I was an academic, I worked for a short time in public relations.

  • And, found myself one day in a meeting at 9 o'

  • clock in the morning with a very powerful entertainment industry executive.

  • And he had a little refrigerator at the edge of his desk.

  • While we were meeting, he would open it up.

  • Bottle of vodka.

  • Drank vodka straight out of the bottle, and had a bag of raw onions.

  • He was munching on those while this was going on.

  • And nobody said anything to him about it.

  • We didn't react while it was happening.

  • We didn't talk about it afterwards.

  • He didn't even offer to share anything with us.

  • It seemed perfectly appropriate to him to behave that way in a meeting with us.

  • Would never have occurred to us to do that in a meeting with him.

  • I want to talk with you about power, and I want to try to provide

  • a new way of thinking about how to

  • approach situations where you want to have impact.

  • One of the things that I've observed in my work in this area

  • is that, most people, when they are trying to prepare for a situation

  • where they want to have influence, going to a meeting or change somebody's

  • mind, is they tend to think a lot about what they're going to say.

  • That situation.

  • So, I'm going to suggest that rather than thinking about what you're going to say

  • in situations like this, you need to think about what your body is telling people.

  • When people are forming an impression of you, what you

  • say accounts for only 7% of what they come away with.

  • [MUSIC]

  • What I'd like to do today is to start first by telling you

  • a little bit about the actual mechanics of the body language of power.

  • What are the cues that we send, and what do they mean?

  • And then I'd like to talk with you about how you can

  • think about using those different cues

  • to address specific challenges in specific situations.

  • There is actually a body language of power.

  • And we know it, but we know it so well that we don't know that we know it.

  • It, it's something that we've been learning through

  • our socialization since a very, very young age.

  • So, we learn how to tune our

  • bodies to specific situations and specific relationships.

  • When we need to show someone respect, or be deferential, we know how to

  • use our body in a way that allows us to be effective in that role.

  • And we learn how to take charge with our bodies, and

  • how to make sure other people aren't taking advantage of us.

  • Most of us are socialized, you know, over the course of our lives, based

  • on other people's expectations of where they

  • think we should be within, in a hierarchy.

  • And so we learn how to do certain aspects of this, sort of performance, very well.

  • And other parts we know less well.

  • And sometimes we find ourselves in situations where the things we do

  • with our bodies that come most naturally don't fit the situation at all.

  • So, I wanna raise awareness of the ways in which we use our bodies,

  • and the impact that it has on our ability to have power and influence.

  • If you wanna be strategic about acting with power there

  • are two objectives that you have to keep in mind.

  • The first one is that you wanna be able to show up authoritative.

  • In charge, able to make the decisions, and able to privilege

  • your knowledge and experience over the knowledge and experience of other people.

  • The same time you need to be able to show approachable.

  • Which is, open, empathetic, willing to take others knowledge and experiences into

  • account and be able to relate to people on a human level.

  • So, let me see if I can start by

  • giving you a framework for thinking about two main

  • objectives for addressing the set of questions about how

  • your body language can be used to change your impact.

  • There are really two things I think you need

  • to be able to do if you wanna have influence.

  • The first is, you need to be able to show up authoritative.

  • Being authoritative means showing up and letting people know that you're in charge.

  • And what it involves psychologically and from a

  • body language perspective, is that you're going to

  • be closing yourself off a little bit to

  • other people, you're privileging your knowledge and experience.

  • Over and above the knowledge and experience

  • of other people, you're becoming more directive

  • and more concerned with controlling other people's

  • behavior than from taking direction from others.

  • The second objective, and it's equally important, is that

  • you need to be able to show up approachable.

  • Being approachable means that people feel that they can come to you with

  • whatever is on their mind, and relate to you on a human level.

  • Being approachable is just as important as knowing how to show authoritative.

  • It's really the basis of your likability.

  • It's the basis of the extent to which other people want to

  • be close to you, and it requires really, a totally opposite orientation

  • from showing up authoritative, it really involves being more open to other

  • people, being prepared psychologically to relate to them on a human level.

  • And if you think about the challenge of

  • showing up authoritative as increasing the psychological distance

  • between yourself and other people, either by raising

  • yourself a little or by lowering others a little.

  • Being approachable is really about shrinking the

  • psychological distance between you and other people.

  • It's about lowering yourself a little or raising other people up.

  • So, in the framework that I'm introducing to you today,

  • which I call acting with power, the body language associated

  • with showing up authoritative is called playing high and the

  • body language associated with showing up approachable is called playing low.

  • [MUSIC]

  • The actions associated with playing high come from what we observe whenever

  • we look at animals or human beings in the context of a social hierarchy.

  • When you look at people with, or group members with high rank, what

  • you'll see is a general body language that reflects a state of relaxation.

  • And openness, because at the top of hierarchy you have nothing to worry about.

  • Everybody beneath you is gonna make sure that nothing bad ever happens.

  • So, playing high, in a very general sense,

  • will look like a very open, expansive, relaxed body.

  • When walking, you assume others will move out of your path, taking up maximum space,

  • and allowing your body and your gestures to flow into the space of other people.

  • Other actions associated with playing high include

  • keeping your head perfectly still while talking.

  • And speaking in complete sentences.

  • So it's not important when you're playing high to have long sentences, in fact, they

  • can be very short but they'll have a clear beginning and a clear end point.

  • You'll also see people, when playing high, holding eye

  • contact a little longer than normal when addressing someone else.

  • It's actually an interesting relationship.

  • I think the idea that staring someone down is associated with playing high

  • is something most people know, but actually

  • it's a little more subtle than that.

  • So, when you're playing high, you stare someone down when you're addressing them.

  • You don't let them out from under you gaze.

  • They know you're serious.

  • But when they're addressing you, you're free to look around, you got

  • other things on your mind, other people you need to talk to, right?

  • So when you're being addressed by other people, you're free to look away.

  • You don't check other people's eyes for any reaction to what you've

  • said, and you have no visual reaction to what other people say either.

  • And you can interrupt before you know what you're gonna say.

  • It's important to recognize that playing high is a source of dominance.

  • Other people, in many situations, are simply more likely

  • to defer just based on how you use your body.

  • It's also important to recognize that playing high

  • can be really dangerous, one of the easiest

  • ways to get in trouble in a group is to play higher than your actual rank.

  • So, the most general advice I can give about when to play high is that you play

  • high to reinforce your actual rank, or in

  • a competitive situation when status is up for grabs.

  • [MUSIC]

  • Let's talk about what it looks like to play low.

  • When you observe natural hierarchies in groups

  • what you'll see is that lower ranking members

  • have a body language that is exactly the opposite of what playing high looks like.

  • Low ranking members hold their bodies very close and tight, they try to make

  • themselves as small as they can, minimize their footprint, and do, sort of prepare

  • themselves to hide from other people or kind of fend off a blow, so you'll see a

  • much more an attempt to shrink a little bit and and hide.

  • So when someone's playing low, you'll see

  • them leaning forward and sometimes point their

  • toes inward, it's all different ways of

  • making your footprint a little bit smaller.

  • You'll see people speak in incomplete sentences.

  • And when someone's playing low, you get a lot of fleeting and jerking movements.

  • Talking with your hands near your face, and instead of looking

  • directly at someone, a lot more glancing around and looking away.

  • They'll talk to to you and just glance over to make

  • sure that it's going okay, but there's no actual eye contact.

  • When a high status person is addressing a lower status

  • person that's when the low status person's eyes are riveted.

  • So, one of the other really interesting differences between people

  • who are higher ranking and lower ranking in groups, is that

  • you see a lot more smiling from the low ranking

  • members and it's not because things are better at the bottom.

  • Right?

  • People in the lower ranks are smiling because it's their job

  • to make sure that the people above them are never uncomfortable.

  • So they're not genuine smiles.

  • You get this kind of a fake, apologetic smile.

  • It's a badge of appeasement.

  • A way of making sure that people above them are feeling okay.

  • Playing low is also really important.

  • It's the basis of building rapport.

  • For a low ranking person, it's really important that the people

  • above you know that you understand their position and respect theirs.

  • Playing low for a high status person actually makes you more approachable.

  • You can gain status as a high status person by playing low.

  • So, you're most likely to be effective when playing low if you do

  • it to reinforce your actual rank or when you wanna lift someone else up.

  • [MUSIC]

  • So, the next important question is, how should you think about using this?

  • And I can tell you that I use it in two different ways.

  • To make myself more comfortable in situations where I'm afraid I'm

  • not going to be able to show up the way I

  • want to, and I also use my body language to help

  • other people feel more comfortable in situations where I'm worried about that.

  • You can think about using your body language not to

  • change the way you show up, every day in every situation.

  • But, as a way of meeting specific kinds of challenges.

  • When you walk into a situation and something unexpected happens,

  • people aren't as receptive as you expected them to be.

  • You find that you're being attacked or you can't get someone who you thought

  • was gonna be open to open up and tell you what you need to know.

  • You can think about how to adjust your body

  • language to try to shift the dynamic in the relationship.

  • [MUSIC]

  • So, when you look at men and women

  • in leadership roles, what you find is that men

  • and women don't actually behave differently in these roles,

  • they're perceived entirely differently doing exactly the same things.

  • So, let me talk to you for a minute about women in power.

  • And what that means is that, we're socialized to use

  • the body language that's associated with having a lower rank.

  • This is not necessarily a problem, it just means that many of us are better

  • versed in that body language than we are in the body language of playing high.

  • And the socialization has implications for how

  • women are viewed in different types of roles.

  • Let me tell you about a study that

  • was conducted by one of my colleagues at Stanford.

  • He was teaching a case in his MBA class

  • about an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley named Heidi Roizen.

  • And she was very successful, and he

  • used the case to illustrate how effectively people

  • can use social networks as a way of

  • really building a business and building a reputation.

  • When his students read this case, they were very negative

  • about her, and he was kind of surprised by that.

  • So, he thought that it might have something to do with her gender.

  • So, my colleague took the case about Heidi Roizen and he changed the name

  • of the protagonist to Howard Roizen, and left all the other details the same.

  • He gave half his students the case about Heidi.

  • He gave the other half of his students the case about Howard.

  • Before they came into class they rated Heidi

  • or Howard on a bunch of different dimensions.

  • First they were asked how humble and genuine and likeable was this person.

  • And Howard was the winner of that contest.

  • The second set of questions they were asked had to

  • do with how self-interested and power hungry the protagonist was.

  • And it might not surprise you to know that Heidi won that contest.

  • The female actor was judged much more harshly

  • for exactly the same behaviors as her male counterpart.

  • Heidi and Howard where judged as equally competent, but when asked who they

  • preferred to work with and who

  • they'd rather hire, the students preferred Howard.

  • So, the reason I talk about this case in my executive education class

  • is because I think it illustrates a problem that a lot of women face.

  • We're being held to these dual expectations.