Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 10, 2013

New Research on Power and Influence

I just bought Adam Grant’s new book Give and Take. In his book Grant, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, describes two different styles of influence. Influencing others is a necessity if we want to make an impact. It’s certainly no fun to be with people who always have to have their own way and never want to do what you want to do. At work it can be career limiting if we have can’t influence our colleagues and higher ups to let us run with our ideas.

According to Grant we can either influence people by establishing our dominance over them or we can influence people by earning their respect and admiration.

There have been numerous books and articles written about the topic of power and influence in the workplace but I was drawn to Grant’s work because like me, he is an introvert, and because he uses research data to explain why being dominant and aggressive at work is not always the best way to succeed.

-How are you perceived at work?
-How is this working for you?
-How would you like to be perceived?

As an introvert I have struggled through much of my career because I speak less assertively, express doubt when I don’t know the answer to something, ask questions, and I like to promote others. In fact I get a lot of pleasure in coaching and mentoring others and watching them succeed.

Grant describes this type of communication as “powerless communication”. Ouch! At first glance this seems to put those of us who use this style in a…position of having little or no power. But as Grant, goes on to explain, “powerless communication” can be much more effective than its counterpart…”powerful communication”.

This is because those who tend to favor the “powerful communication” style are the ones who speak forcefully, raise their voices, project confidence (nothing wrong with this), and promote themselves. The downside of this style of communicating: these are the people who will take credit for your work, steal your clients, and be less interested in teamwork and collaboration.

Dominance is a zero sum game: the more the dominant person gets the less there is for everyone else.

In his book Grant does a great job of showing how being dominant can be a disadvantage in four areas: presenting, selling, persuading, and negotiating.

So, whether you use a dominant style to influence people or you influence others by earning their respect and trust you will find some interesting new ways of thinking about communication and influence in Adam Grant’s new book!

Adam Grant specializes in organizational psychology and although his research interests are varied his main concern is “ultimately for the success and well-being of people in organizations”.



  1. An innovative, paradigm-shifting book that will captivate readers of Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, The Power of Habit, and Quiet In his landmark book, Adam Grant illuminates why some people rise to the top of the success ladder while others sink to the bottom. Give and Take reveals that effective networking, collaboration, influence, and leadership skills share an increasingly important factor: our styles of exchanging value. It turns out that in professional interactions, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to claim as much value as possible and matchers aim to trade value evenly, givers are the rare breed who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. Give and Take shows that these styles have dramatic effects on our success. Using his own cutting-edge research as the youngest tenured professor at Wharton Business School, Grant reveals how one of America’s best networkers developed his connections, why a creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts turned things around, and how we could have anticipated Enron’s demise four years before the company collapsed—without ever looking at a single number. Praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Pink, Tony Hsieh, Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, Bob Sutton, Robert Cialdini, David Allen, and Seth Godin—as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estée Lauder, Nike, and NASA—Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions, and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This new view of success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

  2. So, whether you use a dominant style to influence people or you influence others by earning their respect and trust you will find some interesting new ways of thinking about communication and influence in Adam Grant’s new book!

  3. Grant separates individuals into three broad personality styles, depending on how they view relationships with others. Takers are those who try to take more than they give, matchers are those who try to give and take proportionally and conditionally, while givers are those who give more than they take.

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