Power Cues: A book review by Bob Morris

Power CuesPower Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact
Nick Morgan
Harvard Business Review Press (2014)

A rigorous and comprehensive exploration of where and what determine the value of interactions [comma] for better or worse,

In this exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Morgan notes that our conscious minds can handle (i.e. process) about 540 bits of information per second whereas our conscious mind can handle about eleven million (11,000,000) bits of information per second. Percentages vary from one research study to the next but the results of all of the research studies that I have examined indicate that, on average, less that 20% of one’s impact when interacting with another person is determined by what is said; more than 80% of our impact is non-verbal…tone of voice and body language. Time out: Please re-read that last sentence.

Morgan explains how, to a significant extent, we can increase our impact others’ subconscious minds if we strengthen our interpersonal, non-verbal communications. That, in essence, is “the power that rules human interaction.” Here is a covey of seven “power cues, ” accompanied by a question. How you answer each question will help to determine the nature and extent of an area in which to improve.

1. Self-Awareness: How do you show up when you enter a room?
2. Non-Verbal Impact: What emotions do your tone of voice and body language convey?
3. Feedback: What unconscious “messages” are you receiving from others?
4. Presence: Do you have a leadership voice, one that resonates with authority?
5. Clear Signals: What authentic signals do you send out in key situations?
6. Unconscious Mind: Is your unconscious mind limiting you or freeing you?
7. Storytelling: Are you telling powerful stories?

Morgan devotes a separate chapter to each of the seven, explaining with precision as well as eloquence what to do in response to your candid answers as well as HOW to do it effectively.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Morgan’s coverage.

o We’re Not Aware of Our Most Important Activities (Pages 6-14)
o What Humans Really Want (18-21)
o Knowing Your Own Power Cues: Let’s Rethink Our Communications (23-25)
o Why Gesture Matters, and, How Our Minds Really Work: Not So Much (32-33)
o Field Notes: The How-You-Show-Up Questionnaire (49-50)
o The Difficulty of Paying Attention to Everything (53-55)
o Mirror Neurons Make It All Possible (63-64)
o Take Charge of Your Emotions and You’ll Be Able to Take Charge (65-68)
o Play the Top Dog to Be the Top Dog, and, Remember Who’s in Charge (72-75)
o Use Your Unconscious Expertise the Way It Should Be Used (87-89)
o How to Spot the Person in Power (95-98)
o Learn [How] to Listen to Your Unconscious Mind (109-110)
o The Secret Sounds That Run Your Life (121-124)
o Pitching Your Voice to Project Leadership (131-134)
o The Leadership Conversation (138-140)
o Influence Has Four Sources (152-154)
o How to Send Honest Signals Through Cyberspace (161-166)
o How to Tell a Great Story (205-221)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mind can possibly do full justice to the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that Mike Morgan provides in this volume but I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. Here’s just about everything anyone needs to know about how and why mastery of non-verbal as well as verbal skills can increase substantially the quality and impact one has in all interpersonal communication.

I presume to add one final point. All of these skills have a higher purpose: To ensure that your message and how you communicate it – both consciously and unconsciously — help you to achieve the given objectives, and meanwhile, to help ensure that you “get” the messages that others are communicating to you, whether they realize it or not.

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