very embarrassing to carry this around

This post seems like the opposite of everything else on this blog. But I think when I ‘get over mySelf’ it won’t look that way so much.

I just read Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Power and it was fascinating. I don’t know why I said fascinating. There’s interesting stuff in there. Those books frighten me. A book written specifically to learn how to control people! I assume it’s similar to Robert Cialdini’s Influence (summary). A business version of The Game. I haven’t read those but I assume it’s like that. Or any marketing book.

A lot of this is obvious, distasteful, or both. A lot of us have hangups about this type of book. I don’t know why. I’m writing this now to convince you and me of something. Why not learn some things to do it better? Why not use a tool to help the GREATER GOOD!?

A guy falls in love with a girl and then he peacocks to get her. She falls in love with him. Is the relationship less legitimate because he used a defined tactic to get her attention? Artists are constantly playing mind games with us to make us believe a certain thing.

I don’t think there is as much of a moral issue here as I’d like to think. Morals are silly things anyways. I don’t even believe in them. Or at least not one group. 

The whole book was full of interesting studies. A lot of them supporting the idea that you become what you pretend you are. Behavior can create attitudes. Acting like you have the position you want will get you their quicker. Like the Law of Attraction Lite. Here are my notes from the book:

Ch 1: More Than Performance

  • Good performance doesn’t guarantee a job and bad performance doesn’t mean you’ll lose your job. A solid relationship with a boss will go much further.
  • Manage those in power by petting their ego.
  • In advertising, effectiveness is measured in ‘ad recall’, or how likely people are to remember an ad. Same thing with humans. “You can’t select what you recall.”
  • Define the dimensions of your performance. If you do well at X then make sure that’s what people are looking at.
  • Asking for help creates a solid relationship. You Are Not So Smart did a post on the Benjamin Franklin Effect – getting in someone’s debt endears you to them.

Ch 2: The Personal Qualities That Bring Influence

  • When the next step is understood we become less defensive, more open to solutions.
  • Focus on what needs to be done instead of setbacks. The setbacks are already a piece of what needs to be taken into account when finding a solution.
  • 7 Qualities of Powerful people
  1. Ambition – provides persistance
  2. Energy – contagious, inspires others and signals the work is important. Gives more hours of work. Signals commitment.
  3. Focus – on industry to provide deep understanding and focused relationships. Focus on set of activities provides functional skill.
  4. Self-knowledge – could use 80/20 analysis
  5. Confidence – fake power can look like real power enough to become what it’s faking.
  6. Empathy – wearing other shoes.
  7. Capacity to tolerate conflict – doesn’t give up when challenged.
  • Intelligence is vastly overrated. Plenty of other things can bring you where you want to be. (It would be the invisible eighth quality.) For instance, if you think you can do everything best then you won’t build a team.
Ch 3: Choosing where to start
  • companies promote from certain departments.
Ch 4: Getting In: Standing out and Breaking Some Rules
  • likability isn’t useful often
  • ‘asking works’ because people say yes. and asking is flattering
  • rules favor rulemakers
  • Power creates likability more than likability creates power.
  • Support for you depends on whether or not you appear to be winning. Then he talks about a bunch of CEO’s who say, “I’m just an actor.”
Ch 5: Making Something Out of Nothing
  • Resources only helpful when used to support (potential) supporters.
  • Provide attention/support to someone to make value out of nothing.
  • Do small tasks well nobody will challenge for opportunity.
  • Bring people together – individually or through a forum.
Ch 6: Networks
  • Networking
  1. **Build internal contacts
  2. Maintain internal contacts
  3. Using internal contacts
  4. Building external contacts
  5. **Maintaining external contacts
  6. Using external contacts
  • Networks aren’t useful unless directly yours. Very limited use in other peoples’ networks.
  • Better to have many weak social ties than deep relationships for innovation and locating info. Deep social connects better for exploiting existing knowledge.
Ch 7: Acting and Speaking with Power
  • Anger – especially the righteous kind – is more powerful than sadness, guilt, remorse.
  • Acting powerful is nearly as good as being powerful because the deception becomes a reality. Attitudes can follow behavior.
  • Memory can bring in feeling of confidence or whatever emotion you need to bring up. Think of a time when…
  • Taking a pause before answering a question isn’t bad
  • Interrupting signals power. A little bit rude, chicks love dicks I guess.
  • Question the premise of whoever you’re talking to. If their argument is built on a false premise then everything comes tumbling down.
  • Persuasive Linguistic Techniques
  1. Create an “us vs them” scenario. Damn towel-heads! Socialists!
  2. Pause for emphasis, especially before the last point.
  3. Use lists to make it look like you’ve really thought everything through. Also, it limits your opponent’s ability to think of a point outside your closed list.
  4. Contrastive pairs comparing two things. “Do you want [GOOD thing that you’re fighting for] or [a second very terrible ugly option].
  5. Don’t use notes, just speaking signals mastery.
  6. Humor – disarming, makes bond with audience.
  • Repetition and alliteration can create an illusion of a logical point that isn’t actually there.
Ch 8: Building a Reputation
  • First impressions are accurate. A 30 second introduction allows you to predict as much about a person as a five minute conversation.
  • Attention Decrement – fatigue/boredom doesn’t allow people to pay close attention to later like they did during the first impression. Initial judgements are made at peak attention.
  • When you think you know someone you stop looking for new info about them.
  • People engage in behavior to make initial impressions of someone come true
  • Use media to make you better than you are. Then meet the outsized expectations using the boost of positive energy.
  • It’s better to have someone brag for you than to do it on your own.
  • Public flaws can create a “he did it in spite of all these hardships”.
  • Image creates reality.
Ch 9: Opposition and Setbacks
  • In disagreement, give opponent an out to save face.
  • Having priorities helps guide what fights to pick. Know what winning would look like.
  • Focusing on data helps to keep things from being too personal.
  • Multiple fronts – positions in different places – complement each other.
  • Keep objectives socially compelling. “Save the whales!”
  • Place your own business objectives in a broader context that compels others to support you.
  • Social Facilitation Effect – our tendency to bemotivated/on edge on around others. This enhances the performance on overlearned and simple tasks. It kills performance on anything needing new learning or novel/difficult tasks.
Ch 10: Drawbacks of Power
  • Pressure of visibility can kill creativity, make it difficult to risk.
  • can’t have power and autonomy simultaneously
  • Difficult to trust people.
  • Addictive – powerful withdrawal.
Ch 11: How/Why people Lose Power
  • Overconfidence, getting used to being treated special and getting one’s way.
  • Got to expose yourself to situations where people don’t care about your power to keep it from going to your head.
  • Lose patience.
  • Power has tendency to diminish the power holder’s attention and sensitivity to others with less power.
Ch 12: Power Dynamics: Good for Organizations, Good for You?
  • Power and hierarchies are ubiquitous. Even a completely agreeable conversation has aspects of power plays. Conscious or not.
  • Hierarchies – 1. Status is carried from one setting to another, it’s mobile. 2. People prefer hierarchies to anarchy.
  • Understanding power dynamics allows things to get done.
Ch 13: Easier Than You Think
  • Michael Marmot “Social circumstances in adult life predicts health.”