Stanford Business School Executive Education

Acting with Power: a Stanford Business School Webinar [notes]

playing high playing lowMany entrepreneurs will say they started their own companies because they couldn’t stand to work for anyone else. They’ll often say that they “have a problem with authority” or “are terrible employees”. I think this is in part because entrepreneurs often struggle to fit into existing hierarchies or power structures. I sometimes struggle with this myself. I think in part it’s because we prefer an egalitarian relationship over one where they have lower (and often, when they have higher status) with their coworkers.

And yet Deborah Gruenfeld, a professor at the, argues that all groups require some kind of hierarchy to be effective. Gruenfeld believes that all individuals (this includes entrepreneurs!) must learn how to operate well within a hierarchy if they want to be successful and have impact.

Stanford Business School Executive Education puts on a variety of training webinars and I tuned into one recently taught by Gruenfeld called “Acting With Power” and it provided some great insights into how our behavior and non verbal cues affect pur ability to influence, persuade and lead others.

Reading Intent and Emotion from Moving Dots

We intuitively recognize that people reveal much more about their state of mind through their behavior and non-verbal signals than the actual content of their words. To really make this point, Gruenfeld showed us an created by a group called Bio Motion Labs in Queen’s University.

In playing with it, what you quickly find is that even with just a few dots moving on the screen, we can get a sense of emotion, sense of aggression, sense of what this person might be thinking or feeling.

Playing High vs Playing Low

The webinar was called “Acting with Power” and in it, Gruenfeld establishes these two main ways of interacting with another person within a hierarchy: playing high and playing low.

Playing high is about creating psychological distance between you and the other person. It establishes a sense of authority over the other person in the interaction.

Playing low is about creating psychological closeness between you and the other person. It makes other people feel that you are approachable.

Characteristics of playing high

  • Speaking at a slower pace in full sentences
  • Keeping the head very still
  • Making longer than usual eye contact with someone when you’re talking to them
  • Not showing visible reactions to other people’s comments
  • Making expansive gestures
  • Leaning back

Prof Gruenfeld suggested we take a look at Queen Elizabeth, played by Judy Dench in the 1998 movie Shakespeare in Love as a great example of what playing high looks like.

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N CA continuing to consolidate its position

by Disillusional

As the stem cell research center in the US, maybe the world.
"The founder of Business Wire, an electronic distributor of press releases, donated $33 million to help Stanford University build a stem cell research center, the school announced Tuesday.
Lorry Lokey's donation is the largest contribution from an individual to the Stanford medical school. Stanford hopes to complete construction by 2011.
"The important thing to me is that stem cells might not only extend life, but also improve the quality of life, as so many people suffer in their later years," said Lokey, 79

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