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Mindful : February 2017
1 Empathy Ask a great question or two in every interaction, and paraphrase important points that others make. Listen with gusto. Orient your body and eyes toward the person speaking and convey interest and engagement vocally. When someone comes to you with a problem, signal concern with phrases such as “I’m sorry” and “That’s really tough.” Avoid rushing to judgment and advice. Before meetings, take a moment to think about the person you’ll be with and what is happening in his or her life. Fight the Power 2 Gratitude Make thoughtful thank-you’s a part of how you communicate with others. Send colleagues specific and timely emails or notes of appreciation for jobs done well. Publicly acknowledge the value that each person contributes to your team, including the support staff. Use the right kind of touch— pats on the back, fist bumps, or high fives—to celebrate successes. 3 Generosity Seek opportunities to spend a little one-on-one time with the people you lead. Delegate some important and high-profile responsibilities. Give praise generously. Share the limelight. Give credit to all who contribute to the success of your team and your organization. If we are to accomplish anything in the world, to do good, to help others, to achieve our aims, we need power. And yet power can put us into something like a manic state. If we have recently moved into a position of authority, we may be particularly vulnerable to succumbing to this “power paradox.” To counteract this tendency, it can help to find simple ways to practice empathy, gratitude, and generosity. Excerpted and reprinted with permission from “Don’t Let Power Corrupt You” by Dacher Keltner. Har vard Business Review, October 2016. Copyright 2016 by Har vard Business Publishing; all rights reserved. difference in the world is shaped by what other people think of you. Your capacity to alter the state of others depends on their trust in you. Your ability to empower others depends on their willingness to be influenced by you. Your power is constructed in the judgments and actions of others. This idea distills down to four principles: groups give power to those who advance the greater good, construct reputations that deter- mine one’s capacity to influence, bestow status and esteem on those who advance the greater good, and resort to gossip to punish those who undermine the greater good. A Laboratory to Study Power and Influence Natural state thought experiments, like Lord of the Flies, are theoretically compelling but are difficult to pull off scientifically. As we enter just about any situation—arriving at kinder- garten for the first day, socializing in college, joining the workforce, or making friends on Facebook—we already belong to a social class, a neighborhood, a family with a lineage and history, and an ethnic tribe. But a dorm hall at a large public university is a good choice for such an experiment. The late teen years are a developmental period when young women and men become acutely aware of their power; their social rank says a great deal about the social gatherings they will be invited to and what kind of sexual life they will enjoy or be reduced to yearning for. The standardized conditions of dorm life—9 -by-12 -foot rooms, a shared address, and mass-produced cafeteria food— minimize class-related differences of neighbor- hood, lifestyle, and domicile. Some 20 years ago I secured the participation of one hall in a first-year dorm at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Some students were wealthy, some were middle class, and some were poor: they were representative of the distribu- tion of wealth and class in the United States. My plan was to carry out a natural state experiment and document who rose to power. At the start of the semester, I had students indicate how much “influence” every other person in their hall had. They also filled out a questionnaire that asked them to report on → February 2017 mindful 53 emotions