Q: “Many supposed communication problems are actually balance-of-power problems. … The unintended but damaging result is to increase the power of the already powerful and reduce the power of the already powerless.” p. 55

C: This quote popped out at me in light of our recent role modeling of parent or student experiences when meeting with a dean or other “person of power” in a school. Those of us who played the role of parent or student spoke strongly about how vulnerable and defensive they felt.  This is interesting because none of us playing the role of the Dean commented that we felt powerful during the situation. This quote makes me think about the role of power and how it’s true: as Dean, a successful conversation with the parent and student results in them agreeing or complying with your basic goals; if this happens, the less powerful party does not leave with more power.

This plays over into classroom interactions: how uncomfortable students are when we ask them to explain themselves or reveal how they really feel or what’s going on in their lives. Or, with staff: what level of trust does one need before you can really “clear the air” with a boss?

Q: I do wonder if there are communication techniques that ease these unbalanced power situations. Is being aware enough or are there steps I can take as a “person of power” that will improve my odds of truly communicating?

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