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How to Observe your Power

How to Observe Your Power

In our previous article we discussed “How to Shift Your Locus of Control.”

In this article we will explore the closely related Locus of Power which lies at the heart of all human interaction.

When we approach someone to communicate with them, we are seeking either to gain information or impart it. We are also usually seeking a response.

If we are simply imparting information, the response we seek is usually only the acknowledgement that we have been understood.

Many times, however, when we interact with another person, we want something from them.

For example; we might directly ask someone for something such as a pay rise, or permission to take a holiday.

We may unconsciously word our conversation in such a way as to gain approval or reassurance from a respected friend or colleague.

When ‘gossiping’ we may impart sensational information, seeking a reaction and additional information to further the scandal and for our amusement.

When we complain to someone, we are seeking to be understood, even empathised with and assured that action will be taken.

We may wish to put on a show to demonstrate that we are more knowledgeable than someone who has been bothering us.

We may wish to boast about our lives to score a point from someone who has annoyed us by doing the same.

It is important to remember that a greater proportion of our communication is non-verbal than verbal, so we are always expressing our intentions even when we are not speaking them.

When we express a need for a particular response, consciously or unconsciously, we give our power to the other person and make them responsible for our present wellbeing.

We move the locus of power in the conversation towards the other person when we allow ourselves to be emotionally attached to that person’s response.

The more emotionally attached we are, the more of our power we have given away.

In conversation, some people are very skilled at perceiving when they have been given the locus of power and can make a conscious decision as to how to respond.

If this is not done with integrity or for the greatest good of all concerned, conflict may well arise from the situation.

Some of us will give away the locus of power easily in conversations, while others of us will keep it towards ourselves so that we are more in control of the situation (a little like keeping your cards close to your chest.)

This will depend on such things as personality and previous experience.

We can improve our resilience by observing our own behaviour in all our communications.

Collecting information like this allows us to spot patterns and, eventually make our responses conscious rather than unconscious.

We may wish to retain responsibility for our own present wellbeing by giving away less of our power.

We can do this by first noticing the locus of power and where it sits.

Try This:

Spend some time observing your own behaviour during conversations in all areas of your life. Do this with kindness towards yourself and others. Remember that the purpose of this exercise is to improve your understanding of Self.

See if you can spot patterns. You may like to write down transcripts of conversations after they have happened and decide the position of the locus of power.

You do not need to take any further action at this stage. Sometimes simply raising your awareness of power dynamics alone, can effect positive change.

If you want to, you can then pause and ask yourself the following questions:

“What am I seeking from this person by saying this?”

“Is this something that I can give to myself?”

You can then ask:

“What is this telling me about what my needs are in terms of developing resilience?”

This will show you where you need to work.

Here you can explore your own need for approval/permission/reassurance etc.

For example:

Are you constantly seeking approval?

Do you regularly need permission to go ahead with projects?

Are you running everything by someone else so that you do not have to take responsibility when things go wrong?

Do you regularly communicate your talents and achievements?

Do you compete with your peers?

Do you enjoy gossip?

What do you seek to gain from each interaction?

Can you give these things to yourself so that you do not need them from others?

Can you take more responsibility when interacting with others?

There are many reasons why we might shift the locus of power towards others and therefore away from the Self.

Exploring the reasons why you interact in the way that you do, will improve your understanding and lead to more conscious communication.

Power dynamics are complex. There will always be both a balance and an exchange of power in human interaction.

Sometimes we must give away some of our power for a useful interaction to take place.

The key is to raise our awareness and consciously choose what is appropriate rather than acting out of unconscious need.

Understanding and mastering our part in the ‘great dance’ of communication is both enlightening and empowering.

In fact, it is key to building resilience staying afloat in modern times.

If this helped you please share it. Thank you.

© Resilient Practice 2020

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