Spence: Using Power (2)

We are taking a close look at Gerry Spence’s book “How to Argue and Win Every Time”. And we are thinking about power. The first step was to understand that others have power only when we give it to them. It is our choice whether to do so. But how do we cope with power that is used against us?

By understanding what is behind the expression of power, we can make their power powerless against us. Threats, rantings and ravings are in fact expressions of infirmities – not real power. And we all have infirmities that we seek to mask. When a person abuses power to mask an infirmity, the appropriate reaction is to pity him or her. Why pity? Because using power without wisdom is useless over time.

The wisdom needed in using power is to see the corresponding responsib8ility. For power never exists without responsibility. A parent, for example, has power over the child but is responsible to help the child grow. The boss has power over workers but is responsible for product. And persons with responsibility are grateful when they get help from those they have power over.  They need that help. And from this perspective, the powerful are powerless. Indeed, powerful people tend to be lonely as well.

Love of power is an odd thing when it is detached from responsibility. More a reflection of neurosis than something to be sought after. But having power can be blinding. To help us see what is going on, we should keep in mind that

    power is the pistol that shoots both ways

. Use power against another and you are shooting the pistol. But you shoot yourself as well — from the resentment and hate that your abuse of power engenders. And this applies to using power to intimidate.

The key takeaway is that we need power within ourselves. But we need to see that abuse of power is a distraction rather than a main event in advancing winning arguments.

Next Gerry talks about the power of credibility. Stay tuned!

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