The Power of Powerless Communication

Susan Cain, author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, recently wrote a very interesting piece for The Huffington Post on “powerless communication”. We at Speaking that Connects frequently stress the immense power of communication, so how exactly can it be powerless?

It is really a matter of whether someone’s communication style is more overt and forceful, or more subtle and passive. People who make suggestions have a less powerful communication style than people who make demands, yet our more passive peers are better influencers. Why is that?

In sales, a soft approach is often more successful because buyers are more likely to feel like their needs are being taken into consideration than when a salesperson comes on strong right from the beginning. Think of the strongest sales approaches used today, such as telemarketing and door-to-door sales. How often do we actually purchase from people who use these methods? These approaches are often viewed as harassment and have inspired Do Not Call lists. Another hard selling method is the infomercial. Think about how much time you spend mocking these ads versus taking them seriously.

Overbearing communication styles are not just turn offs in sales situations, though. A recent article by The Telegraph details a survey that reveals the top reasons why people remove Facebook friends. The number one reason? Their Facebook friends bragged too much.

It is often said that confidence attracts people and improves life in many other ways, but even in this case, there really can be too much of a good thing. Saturday Night Live even created the series of Penelope sketches based on this concept. Maybe not quite as well-known as Debbie Downer, Penelope always alienates people just as much as Debbie does:–traffic-school/n12209/ 

Maybe instead of feeling pity for introverts, we should celebrate them. After all, they seem to know a few tricks the extroverts don’t.

Speaking that Connects