Dynamics of Communication

Dynamics of Communication

From the Journal of Consumer Research, Dubois, Rucker and Galinsky; June, 2016.

Researchers have examined how power arises and is distributed via socioeconomic status, how it affects consumer behavior and even how it affects psychological state or mindset. One area researchers haven’t fully explored is how power affects the creation and reception of persuasive messages. Having power, researchers have now demonstrated, increases your attempts as a communicator to influence others.

From getting your kids to clean their rooms and brush their teeth, to ethically persuading a parent to do what is best for their child in your office, as a doctor how your power is perceived, and by whom, makes all the difference in the world as to how your message is received.

Lower power audiences, for example, prefer low-power presenters and are more receptive to warmth. High power audiences, on the other hand, prefer higher-power presenters and are more receptive to messages of competence.

Unfortunately, most doctors in our database of secret shopper data, when presenting treatment to patients and parents, take a traditional presentation approach that focuses on competence. Doctors review technical details and clinical aspects, when many of the moms prefer a conversation centered around warmth; trust-building over chest-beating.

Some dads and high-power moms, on the other hand, are repelled by messages that center around warmth. They want to know exactly what you’re going to do and why your treatment is better than the competition down the street. They want to see your competence demonstrated.

Failing to assess which audience you’re communicating with, is a critical error in attempting to ethically persuade patients and parents to make the right healthcare choices. As this research now demonstrates, even though your mom taught you this a long time ago, what you say truly is not as important as how you say it.

Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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