551: How to Use Power Responsibly, with Vanessa Bohns


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Vanessa Bohns: You Have More Influence Than You Think Vanessa Bohns is a social psychologist, an award-winning researcher and teacher, and a professor of organizational behavior at Cornell University. Her writing and research has been published in top academic journals in psychology, management, and law and has also been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and NPR's Hidden Brain. Her book is titled You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters*. In this conversation, Vanessa and I explore the conclusions of research: we often don’t recognize our own power. We detail some of the common patterns that leaders should watch for in their work. Most importantly, we discuss the practical steps that almost anybody can take to use power more responsibly. Key Points Power can lead people to underestimate their words and actions. A powerful person's whisper can sound more like a shout to the person they have power over. Power tends to lead people to ignore the perspective of others and to feel freer to do whatever they want. The effects of power are not inevitable. You can do better for others by thinking about power as responsibility. Adopt the lens of a third party in order to see the impact of your actions on others. To feel your impact better, ask people what they aren thinking of feeling, rather than simply imagining or assuming. One way to experience your influence by taking action to give positive recognition and feedback. Resources Mentioned You Have More Influence Than You Think: How We Underestimate Our Power of Persuasion, and Why It Matters* by Vanessa Bohns Interview Notes Download my interview notes in PDF format (free membership required). Related Episodes Use Power for Good and Not Evil, with Dacher Keltner (episode 254) How to Create Meaningful Gatherings, with Priya Parker (episode 395) How to Negotiate When Others Have Power, with Kwame Christian (episode 416) Discover More Activate your free membership for full access to the entire library of interviews since 2011, searchable by topic.

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