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  • Speaking up is hard to do.

  • I understood the true meaning of this phrase exactly one month ago,

  • when my wife and I became new parents.

  • It was an amazing moment.

  • It was exhilarating and elating,

  • but it was also scary and terrifying.

  • And it got particularly terrifying when we got home from the hospital,

  • and we were unsure

  • whether our little baby boy was getting enough nutrients from breastfeeding.

  • And we wanted to call our pediatrician,

  • but we also didn't want to make a bad first impression

  • or come across as a crazy, neurotic parent.

  • So we worried.

  • And we waited.

  • When we got to the doctor's office the next day,

  • she immediately gave him formula because he was pretty dehydrated.

  • Our son is fine now,

  • and our doctor has reassured us we can always contact her.

  • But in that moment,

  • I should've spoken up, but I didn't.

  • But sometimes we speak up when we shouldn't,

  • and I learned that over 10 years ago when I let my twin brother down.

  • My twin brother is a documentary filmmaker,

  • and for one of his first films,

  • he got an offer from a distribution company.

  • He was excited,

  • and he was inclined to accept the offer.

  • But as a negotiations researcher,

  • I insisted he make a counteroffer,

  • and I helped him craft the perfect one.

  • And it was perfect --

  • it was perfectly insulting.

  • The company was so offended,

  • they literally withdrew the offer

  • and my brother was left with nothing.

  • And I've asked people all over the world about this dilemma of speaking up:

  • when they can assert themselves,

  • when they can push their interests,

  • when they can express an opinion,

  • when they can make an ambitious ask.

  • And the range of stories are varied and diverse,

  • but they also make up a universal tapestry.

  • Can I correct my boss when they make a mistake?

  • Can I confront my coworker who keeps stepping on my toes?

  • Can I challenge my friend's insensitive joke?

  • Can I tell the person I love the most my deepest insecurities?

  • And through these experiences, I've come to recognize

  • that each of us have something called a range of acceptable behavior.

  • Now, sometimes we're too strong; we push ourselves too much.

  • That's what happened with my brother.

  • Even making an offer was outside his range of acceptable behavior.

  • But sometimes we're too weak.

  • That's what happened with my wife and I.

  • And this range of acceptable behaviors --

  • when we stay within our range, we're rewarded.

  • When we step outside that range, we get punished in a variety of ways.

  • We get dismissed or demeaned or even ostracized.

  • Or we lose that raise or that promotion or that deal.

  • Now, the first thing we need to know is:

  • What is my range?

  • But the key thing is, our range isn't fixed;

  • it's actually pretty dynamic.

  • It expands and it narrows based on the context.

  • And there's one thing that determines that range more than anything else,

  • and that's your power.

  • Your power determines your range.

  • What is power?

  • Power comes in lots of forms.

  • In negotiations, it comes in the form of alternatives.

  • So my brother had no alternatives;

  • he lacked power.

  • The company had lots of alternatives;

  • they had power.

  • Sometimes it's being new to a country, like an immigrant,

  • or new to an organization

  • or new to an experience,

  • like my wife and I as new parents.

  • Sometimes it's at work,

  • where someone's the boss and someone's the subordinate.

  • Sometimes it's in relationships,

  • where one person's more invested than the other person.

  • And the key thing is that when we have lots of power,

  • our range is very wide.

  • We have a lot of leeway in how to behave.

  • But when we lack power, our range narrows.

  • We have very little leeway.

  • The problem is that when our range narrows,

  • that produces something called the low-power double bind.

  • The low-power double bind happens

  • when, if we don't speak up, we go unnoticed,

  • but if we do speak up, we get punished.

  • Now, many of you have heard the phrase the "double bind"

  • and connected it with one thing, and that's gender.

  • The gender double bind is women who don't speak up go unnoticed,

  • and women who do speak up get punished.

  • And the key thing is that women have the same need as men to speak up,

  • but they have barriers to doing so.

  • But what my research has shown over the last two decades

  • is that what looks like a gender difference

  • is not really a gender double bind,

  • it's a really a low-power double bind.

  • And what looks like a gender difference

  • are really often just power differences in disguise.

  • Oftentimes we see a difference between a man and a woman

  • or men and women,

  • and think, "Biological cause. There's something fundamentally different

  • about the sexes."

  • But in study after study,

  • I've found that a better explanation for many sex differences

  • is really power.

  • And so it's the low-power double bind.

  • And the low-power double bind means that we have a narrow range,

  • and we lack power.

  • We have a narrow range,

  • and our double bind is very large.

  • So we need to find ways to expand our range.

  • And over the last couple decades,

  • my colleagues and I have found two things really matter.

  • The first: you seem powerful in your own eyes.

  • The second: you seem powerful in the eyes of others.

  • When I feel powerful,

  • I feel confident, not fearful;

  • I expand my own range.

  • When other people see me as powerful,

  • they grant me a wider range.

  • So we need tools to expand our range of acceptable behavior.

  • And I'm going to give you a set of tools today.

  • Speaking up is risky,

  • but these tools will lower your risk of speaking up.

  • The first tool I'm going to give you got discovered in negotiations

  • in an important finding.

  • On average, women make less ambitious offers

  • and get worse outcomes than men at the bargaining table.

  • But Hannah Riley Bowles and Emily Amanatullah have discovered

  • there's one situation where women get the same outcomes as men

  • and are just as ambitious.

  • That's when they advocate for others.

  • When they advocate for others,

  • they discover their own range and expand it in their own mind.

  • They become more assertive.

  • This is sometimes called "the mama bear effect."

  • Like a mama bear defending her cubs,

  • when we advocate for others, we can discover our own voice.

  • But sometimes, we have to advocate for ourselves.

  • How do we do that?

  • One of the most important tools we have to advocate for ourselves

  • is something called perspective-taking.

  • And perspective-taking is really simple:

  • it's simply looking at the world through the eyes of another person.

  • It's one of the most important tools we have to expand our range.

  • When I take your perspective,

  • and I think about what you really want,

  • you're more likely to give me what I really want.

  • But here's the problem:

  • perspective-taking is hard to do.

  • So let's do a little experiment.

  • I want you all to hold your hand just like this:

  • your finger -- put it up.

  • And I want you to draw a capital letter E on your forehead

  • as quickly as possible.

  • OK, it turns out that we can draw this E in one of two ways,

  • and this was originally designed as a test of perspective-taking.

  • I'm going to show you two pictures

  • of someone with an E on their forehead --

  • my former student, Erika Hall.

  • And you can see over here,

  • that's the correct E.

  • I drew the E so it looks like an E to another person.

  • That's the perspective-taking E

  • because it looks like an E from someone else's vantage point.

  • But this E over here is the self-focused E.

  • We often get self-focused.

  • And we particularly get self-focused in a crisis.

  • I want to tell you about a particular crisis.

  • A man walks into a bank in Watsonville, California.

  • And he says, "Give me $2,000,

  • or I'm blowing the whole bank up with a bomb."

  • Now, the bank manager didn't give him the money.

  • She took a step back.

  • She took his perspective,

  • and she noticed something really important.

  • He asked for a specific amount of money.

  • So she said,

  • "Why did you ask for $2,000?"

  • And he said, "My friend is going to be evicted

  • unless I get him $2,000 immediately."

  • And she said, "Oh! You don't want to rob the bank --

  • you want to take out a loan."

  • (Laughter)

  • "Why don't you come back to my office,

  • and we can have you fill out the paperwork."

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, her quick perspective-taking defused a volatile situation.

  • So when we take someone's perspective,

  • it allows us to be ambitious and assertive, but still be likable.

  • Here's another way to be assertive but still be likable,

  • and that is to signal flexibility.

  • Now, imagine you're a car salesperson, and you want to sell someone a car.

  • You're going to more likely make the sale if you give them two options.

  • Let's say option A:

  • $24,000 for this car and a five-year warranty.

  • Or option B:

  • $23,000 and a three-year warranty.

  • My research shows that when you give people a choice among options,

  • it lowers their defenses,

  • and they're more likely to accept your offer.

  • And this doesn't just work with salespeople;

  • it works with parents.

  • When my niece was four,

  • she resisted getting dressed and rejected everything.

  • But then my sister-in-law had a brilliant idea.

  • What if I gave my daughter a choice?

  • This shirt or that shirt? OK, that shirt.

  • This pant or that pant? OK, that pant.

  • And it worked brilliantly.

  • She got dressed quickly and without resistance.

  • When I've asked the question around the world

  • when people feel comfortable speaking up,

  • the number one answer is:

  • "When I have social support in my audience; when I have allies."

  • So we want to get allies on our side.

  • How do we do that?

  • Well, one of the ways is be a mama bear.

  • When we advocate for others,

  • we expand our range in our own eyes and the eyes of others,

  • but we also earn strong allies.

  • Another way we can earn strong allies, especially in high places,

  • is by asking other people for advice.

  • When we ask others for advice, they like us because we flatter them,

  • and we're expressing humility.

  • And this really works to solve another double bind.

  • And that's the self-promotion double bind.

  • The self-promotion double bind

  • is that if we don't advertise our accomplishments,

  • no one notices.

  • And if we do, we're not likable.

  • But if we ask for advice about one of our accomplishments,

  • we are able to be competent in their eyes but also be likeable.

  • And this is so powerful

  • it even works when you see it coming.

  • There have been multiple times in life when I have been forewarned

  • that a low-power person has been given the advice to come ask me for advice.

  • I want you to notice three things about this:

  • First, I knew they were going to come ask me for advice.

  • Two, I've actually done research on the strategic benefits

  • of asking for advice.

  • And three, it still worked!

  • I took their perspective,

  • I became more invested in their cause,