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Strategies and Tactics: Reframing the Power Relationship

Strategies and Tactics: Reframing the Power Relationship
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So we’ve talked about the first two strategies for protecting yourself. Minimizing those biases that enable others to influence you, and then flipping the influence tactic that’s trying to be used on you, flipping that tactic on the other person. The third strategy that I wanna talk about and make sure that you are very familiar with is reframing the power relationship. So, what do I mean by reframing the power relationship? For this, let’s go back to the conversation that we had earlier around where does power come from? What are those bases of power those sources of power? And you recall, we talked a lot about personal bases of power, expertise, information, or referent, that charisma-based power.
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We talked about cognitive, the priming effect. We talked about the beliefs that people have, that really affect your feelings psychologically of power. And then thirdly, as we talked about the structural bases of power, those more formal bases of power. Legitimate power. The organizational chart. There’s formal reporting lines. We talked about reward power, the ability to reward people for their performance. We talked about coercion which is really the ability to punish people for their lack of performance or to force people to take a course of action that we want them to take. And so we talked about personal, we talked about cognitive, and we talked about structural bases of power.
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And when we talk about reframing the power relationship, what I’m gonna talk about is when somebody attempts to influence you. Leveraging one base of power, whether it be structural, cognitive, or personal. You can actually reframe that power relationship by drawing on a different base of power that reduces the control that that other person has over you. Or reduces your dependence on that other person. So let me give you an example. So in one of the earlier segments, we talked about authority as an influence tactic. And we talked about everything from business attire, what you wear that signals to other people your expertise or your legitimate power. We talked about your reputation for being an expert.
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Talked about knowing that high-status people support your ideas. Talked about using industry-specific knowledge or jargon to indicate your expertise. All of these are drawing in a particular base of power. The same is true when we talk about the Milgram experiment, or the Stanford prison experiment. In that case, the participants were actually drawing on there legitimate and probably their expertise power in the case of Milgram to really influence the participants. In the case of Milgram to administer the electric shocks or in the case of the prisons experiment at Stanford. To service the prison guards and control the prisoners or the inmates if you will.
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And here again, these people are drawing on a particular source of power, so let’s say they’re drawing on their legitimate power, they’re formally put in charge of the experiment, or your boss is the formal manager of you and your team members, for example. That is drawing on a legitimate base of power very structural in nature. If you want to reframe that power relationship, what you’d do is first you have to remember that there are multiple sources of power in play in any relationship. So even with your boss, for example, who has the legitimate authority, the legitimate power there, probably even has the reward power and maybe even the coercion power. But all of those are structural bases of power.
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Your boss may or may not have, depending on the situation, the personal bases of power. There are certainly situations where with my team, I might be the formal manager, the formal boss, but there are certainly situations where other people in my team are more of an expert in that particular situation than I am. Or there are certainly cases where I might be the formal manager or boss, but someone on my team has information that I do not have. And so here again, multiple sources of power in play in any relationship. You have to keep that in mind because that is the first step in reframing the power relationship.
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Once you understand the multiple basis of power that are in play, then, when someone, in this case I call them person A, uses power source in this case X to influence you. You in this case, person B, simply reframe that relationship using a different power source. So for example, if I’m trying to influence you and I am your formal manager, for example. I might draw on legitimate power as my base of power to influence you. If you want to protect yourself from that influence. Especially if I’m trying to manipulate you to do something either of my own benefit or something that you disagree with. You can reframe that relationship by not undermining the legitimate power.
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That’s not good for anyone, especially your career, if we’re working with your formal manager. You don’t have to undermine the legitimate power. That person’s still in charge, but what you can do is talk about the information or expertise that you have as it relates to the situation. Here it’s all about the situation. What base of power do you have that will reduce the control that the other person has on you? And reduce your dependence on that other person? Remember, that’s the essential foundational element of power, is that person’s control over you and your dependence on that other person.
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So if I’m leveraging the structural base of power legitimacy to try and influence you, you can reframe that relationship by focusing on the expertise or the information that you have that’s relevant to that situation. That maybe I don’t have, or that I have less of. Perfect example of how you’re not dealing with the biases, you’re not flipping the influence tactic, you’re simply changing or re-framing the base of power. That is defining who controls who, who is dependent on who, and who has the power or influence in that relationship. Remember, multiple sources of power in play in any relationship.
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Somebody tries to use one base of power on you, you can reframe the relationship by focusing and bringing to light other bases of power. That put you in a higher power position relative to that other party or at least close the distance between that person’s control over you and your dependents on them.
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