This is a book designed to change the way we think about power in very fundamentals ways. Informed by twenty years of research on the psychology of power, as well as her own personal experiences, Acting with Power is both a prescription for anyone struggling with authority issues, but also social commentary on how we so often misinterpret power and in doing so, fail to live up to our own ideals. We watch people make naked power grabs and cringe, turning away from embracing power as something that is within the realm of the narcissistic. It feels incongruent with our values, with being a good person. What Gruenfeld argues is that in fact it is impossible to be a good person- one who is respected by others and ourselves- without getting comfortable with power. A good person does what’s best for the group and sometimes that means standing up for others with less power, putting a bad actor in their place, or letting someone else be in charge so that the group can move forward. What’s necessary, then, is becoming fluent in the language of power- easily capable of dominance and skilled at deference. In other words, responsive to the hierarchical circumstances,
knowing one’s status within the group and using that knowledge to earn power and increased status.