Relationships Hold Power Over You


& The Power They Hold In Your Life

Every relationship or encounter involves a balance of power of one individual over another.  Sometimes it can be benign and to the extreme, malicious; regardless, there are a near infinite amount of intentions that can be displayed (or masked) that represent one persons control over the other.  “Types” of power are more narrowly defined, and are the result of our roles in a relationship, relative to the other person.  Sometimes we may have more power with certain individuals, and other times, we are powerless.  This is the result of our standing in a relationship and what level of control, be it from expertise, reverence, reward capability, coercive skill, or legitimacy of position.  I will discuss three experiences in my life someone clearly held power over me, their possible intent, and how that power affected the situation.

The Genius

Very often we come across someone whose knowledge is superior to ours, and because of this, they hold some power over us (at the very least, at the conversational level).  As the less informed individual in the relationship, we grant that person more power because we trust in their skill or expertise.  This was the case for me in a discussion I had with a physicist.  Because that field is beyond my ability to grasp and well beyond what I have learned in school, I had to trust this person that I was getting an objective (and presupposed) expert analysis of the Electron Particle Collider.  It was my fear when they turned it on, a black hole would form and destroy the Earth.  Through explanation, the physicist did little to quell my fears because the subject was still beyond my grasp, but, in trusting his confidence about the subject, I was able to sleep that night.  The fact that the world is still here, six months later, continues to justify my faith in what he had to say.

The Interviewer

Sometimes, one person has the power to reward us with what we want or need.  In my recent hunt for a job, I can’t help but notice the peculiar dynamic of a job interview that I was subjected to.  In my instance, the interviewer was less educated than me, yet the key to my employment rested on his shoulders.  The situation, for me, was humbling; for him, likely empowering. I submitted to the fact that if I were to get a job with this company, it would be in part, based on his decision.  So instead of rolling my eyes, I tried to conduct myself as I had originally planned, and put on a good interview.  I start in my new position Saturday.

A Man with a Gun

Finally, there are some situations we face in which we have very little choice in our actions; our actions are ordered to us by a person holding a gun.  Sometimes, it is a person with a legitimate reason, like a National Guardsman or Police Officer, in my experiences during Hurricane Katrina.  They were there to keep civility, and by my compliance, I was protected.  Other times, a different level control where life and death are your options, is displayed.  On a bad street in New Orleans, when approached by a man with demands for my wallet, granting his request was my safest option.  Compliance and trust that the decision I make satisfies the other party was all I was afforded. Fortunately, the outcome was agreeable, considering.  The particular nature of that situation provided the robber with opportunity, and I was nearly powerless.  I likely would have not given him my wallet if it was daylight, or if I was on a crowded block.   This level of power displayed, like every other, was dependent on time, place, situation, and the relationship.

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One thought on “Relationships Hold Power Over You

  1. Rob D

    Simply wish to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your
    post is just nice and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject.

    Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.


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