Verbal & Nonverbal Ways to Communicate Power

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  • 0:01 Displaying Power
  • 0:46 The Words Themselves
  • 1:28 Speaking
  • 2:20 Nonverbal Communication
  • 3:19 Importance of Listening
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

One of the goals of communication is to convince someone to do something that we want them to do. A key way of being able to do that is to communicate power. In this lesson, we focus on how to communicate personal power.

Displaying Power

The dry cleaners have done it again. Despite your best instructions, you go in to pick up your clothes, and they have been ruined. Whether its beads off a dress or buttons missing from a suit, this is likely a situation that all of us will face at some point in our lives. But what do we do next? How we react in this next frame of time has a great deal to say with how our request will be received. In short, we want to achieve just the right balance - serious enough to be treated with respect, but not so threatening as to make them want to call the cops. In this lesson, we'll look at how to display power in such a way that it gets results without ending up in handcuffs.

The Words Themselves

When displaying power verbally, the words you say matter greatly. Let's say you were talking to two random people on the street. One of them says 'Give me your money now!' while the other asks nicely for spare change. Truth be told, you'd probably more willingly part with your wallet with the first, but you'd feel much better about offering money to the second. Of course, that's assuming you are given a choice!

Now, back to the dry cleaners. When you notice something wrong, how do you react? Do you start screaming and telling the people they are incompetent, or do you act as if no fault has been done? Hopefully, you do something else, demonstrating your displeasure, but at the same time expressing utter self control.


Of course, what you say matters, too. Our tone is a direct indication of confidence. Let's look at something less confrontational. Say you were going to approach someone you had feelings for and ask them out on a date. Would you mumble? Of course not, as that projects a lack of confidence. Likewise, would you scream at them? Definitely not, as that projects a desire to oppress them. Instead, you'd look them in the eye and speak as clearly as your fast-beating heart would let you.

Again, maintaining self-control is a major part of projecting power. You'd be surprised at how few people are capable of keeping their emotions in check and focusing on a resolution. If you started screaming at the dry cleaners, they'd do anything they could do to get you to leave. If, on the other other hand, you calmly expressed your displeasure, then you are much harder to dismiss as crazy.

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