Why “Powerless” Communicators Yield the Most Power

My husband is the most gentle man I know. Sometimes too gentle.

He slows down at yellow lights because he knows that red follows yellow and he finds a way to find the good in almost anything. I can burn our dinner and he can still focus on gratefulness that I actually made dinner.

More than those endearing qualities though, I’ve noticed that I have a (huge) tendency to direct the action. Not with him, With everyone. I want to let people know my opinion – and how I would like things done –  and though I do it respectfully and lovingly (usually), I do it.

Not Bill. He rarely tells people what he wants. (You really have to piss him off to ever hear that.) Instead, and this drives me crazy mind you, he asks questions. He shows curiosity. He ponders.

And he gets exactly what he wants. Time and again.

The good news, for me and maybe you, too, is that I have used a female style of communicating which, as it turns out, yields great results. A female style is collaborative and you-focused. Instead of saying, “I am happy to do this for you”, we’re more likely to say, “You can count on great results from this”.

But using a “powerless” type of communicating, the kind Bill uses because it is his nature, yields even better results.

Adam Grant,

Adam Grant, the youngest tenured professor at Wharton says that people who pose questions instead of providing their opinions, thoughts or answers and use tentative instead of more forceful speech are the most powerful communicators.

This “powerless” communication style –  this ability to communicate with wielding power or authority – helps associates, colleagues, customers and clients relax and trust what you have to say.

Pushy gets results because the other person has no choice. You step on their toe and it hurts. So they move out of your way.

When people truly believe that you are open to a different opinion – if it’s better – they want to work with you.

In fact, according to Susan Cain,  “in small group decision making, suggestions prefaced with qualifiers like “This might be a good way to go,” have been found to be accepted more often than forthright statements like “Let’s do it this way.””

But wait, there is more!

She also said:  “… among salespeople, powerless communicators bring in 68% more revenue than “takers.” OMG!!! 

And more (if you’re interested.. Winston Churchill’s wife’s advice to him regarding dealing with people).

It turns out that “powerless” is the most powerful of all.

Your opinion?

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