Opinions of Powerful People

 FreeImages.com/Ike Gomez

FreeImages.com/Ike Gomez

Several years ago, Adam Galinsky, a researcher at Columbia Business School concluded that the more power a person obtains, the more their ability to see varying perspectives diminishes. Through a series of social experiments Galinsky discovered that feeling more powerful causes us to anchor on our own opinions rather than others.

One of the causes for this is the fact that powerful people tend to have more resources available to them. They have certain comforts that afford them the luxury to be careless with their thoughts and actions because they are less incentivized to take the perspectives of others. Another cause for not taking other perspectives is the fact that powerful people are often too busy to stop and truly consider the perspectives of others. This is especially true when rushing through life and trying to consider the lifestyle differences of those unlike their own.

Whether it's for social justice, political movements, or commenting on a favorite subject people with power and celebrity status are more often careless with their thoughts and actions. Meanwhile the entire public gets in a tizzy over a social media post or a sound bite on the news from well know people because those without power want to ride the coat tails of the powerful. In turn, the weak begin to feel more powerful living vicariously through the powerful until we are all entrenched in our own views and opinions.

It's not that powerful people don't have good opinions and valuable insight on different perspectives, they can and do. However, responsible people should be careful to consider everyone's perspectives equally whether they're are in a position of power or not. A celebrity can too easily use his or her platform to persuade others from seeing multiple perspectives and therefore sharing their views is more often irresponsible than not.

We've all experienced those relationships where people rise in power and influence and as they rise, they become less humble and more dogmatic with their approaches. Good leaders maintain perspective and are willing to change their minds. It takes courage for a leader to do this and it should be commended when it happens rather than berate them for "flip-flopping."


Pittampalli, Al. Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. New York: Harper Business, 2016. 145-47. Print.

Informational and Transformational Learning

There are two types of learning that occur in development stages of adulthood.

Informational Learning: This type of learning is when a person learns a new skill. 

Transformational Learning: This type of learning is when a person can alter how they see something and often see a bigger perspective.

The first is more horizontal thinking and the latter is more vertical thinking. It seems the more you can learn horizontally, the more opportunity you have to learn vertically.  Both of these learnings cause a person to evaluate the way they see themselves within their current environments. If a person doesn't like their identity within their current environment, they look for making a change.


Williams, Patrick, and Diane Susan. Menendez. Becoming a Professional Life Coach: Lessons from the Institute for Life Coach Training. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. 76-79. Print.

Proschaka's Six Stages

From the field of addiction counseling, James Prochaska researched and developed a theory of readiness for change in people that is pretty well defined. The six stages are also a useful exercise to consider when thinking about behavior design in your product.

 

Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation

During this stage people are unaware for their need to change. Using assessment data that is specific to that user can help raise the awareness for change.

Stage 2: Contemplation

People are considering making a change when in this stage, but are often unsure how to proceed. They often struggle with whether making a change or taking action is worth it and will get stuck weighing the pros and cons of making a change.

Stage 3: Preparation

A person moves to gathering information, and lining up resources, or gathering options in order to make a change. This stage is a pivotal transition from thinking (Stage 2) to doing (stage 4). This is where a product or service can play a pivotal role in facilitating behavior change in individuals.

Stage 4: Action

This stage is where a person is actually trying new things and taking action.

Stage 5: Maintenance

Persisting with an action long enough for it to become a habit or routine is the hallmark of this stage. making minor modifications or tuneups to a persons plan based on their environment is key.

Stage 6: Termination

This term is used to simply signify that the person no longer needs any kind of programatic system to help facilitate change because key actions have successfully become a natural part of their lifestyle.

These six stages are not always linear and a person could be in multiple stages at the same time while addressing multiple behaviors. 


Williams, Patrick, and Diane Susan. Menendez. Becoming a Professional Life Coach: Lessons from the Institute for Life Coach Training. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. 76-79. Print.

Choices Become Habits

You make thousands of choices everyday. You either choose to do something or you choose not to do something. Each of those choices are prompting your behaviors, good or bad.

Somewhere along the way a single choice can become a habit if the choice continues to be made and some choices require more willpower than others.  For example, attending an early Sunday morning worship service may be a behavior that sits on the fence between being a choice and becoming a regular habit. For some the lack of willpower or enthusiasm will keep it on the choice side of the fence rather than forming a strong habit.

You can give up on a choice ever becoming a habit if it requires a lot of willpower, but you should be aware of what you are giving up. Placing yourself in a good environment on a regular basis may have more benefits than you are aware of. Using the Sunday morning example, by going regularly, you're triggering yourself not to stay up too late on Saturdays, not sleeping in on Sundays, and you're rubbing shoulders with people who in most cases want to be and do good in the world. It stretches you socially, spiritually, and perhaps intellectually. None of these things are bad, but to get the value each week you may need some willpower.

Remembering the "why" behind something that is difficult to do is key. If you can't come up with a good list of why's, then it may not be worth the effort. However, one of those why's ought to be considering what bad habits you might pick up if you weren't filling the space with a healthy, hard-to-do habit. 

If you are struggling with a good choice becoming a habit, improve your odds by making an investment in your preparation. See if you can't make some smaller habits that help you rest and eat better in order to feed your willpower.

May you find the strength to choose good behaviors that turn into healthy habits.

 

Influence

Robert B. Cialdini identifies six basic principles that influence behaviors in his popular book, Influence: Science and Practice.  These principles contain hundreds of behaviors that are triggered responses in all of us. Leveraging these six principles we can influence others to carry out certain behaviors with little thought.

Six Principles of Influence

  • Reciprocation: Our urge to keep things equal and return the favors given to us.
  • Consistency: Sticking with our stated beliefs.
  • Social Proof: When information is lacking, we go with the crowd.
  • Liking: We get along with and follow those we like.
  • Authority: We recognize those who are experts and take their word.
  • Scarcity: When availability is scarce, our freedom is threatened, so we act quickly.