Columbia Prof Explains Overcoming Insecurity in TED Talk


Columbia Business School published an article that reviews the work of Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business at Columbia and “negotiations expert” Adam Galinsky on how to “increase [your] power, overcome insecurity and boost [your] assertiveness in public settings.”

 Galinsky explains in his viral TED Talk, How to Speak up for Yourself, “Speaking up can be risky, whether you’re offering advice to a family member or friend, or deciding whether to confront your employer about a pertinent issue at work.” He believes the key to avoid being demeaned or ostracized for speaking up is to first have a keen awareness of our individual “range of acceptable behavior,” but also when and how to expand it.

He offers five tools to “help increase power and improve assertiveness by expanding your range of acceptable behavior:”

  1. Advocate for others: (aka, the “Mama Bear Effect”). Galinsky says, “Advocating for others is easier than advocating for oneself. Doing so helps people not only begin to understand their own ranges but also know how to expand them.”
  2. Perspective-Taking: “By better understanding what someone else really wants, that person is more likely to give you what you really want.”
  3. Signal flexibility:  “Providing people with a range of options and/or alternatives lowers their defenses and makes them more receptive to your point of view.”
  4. Gain allies:  Galinsky advises, “Two easy ways a person can build allies are to be an advocate for others (see number one) and to ask people for their advice.”
  5. Display expertise and show passion:  “Displaying expertise garners confidence from others, which in turn increases one’s power and expands one’s range of acceptable behavior. Audiences grant greater permission for people to speak up when they display passion for a topic.”


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