Treat Your Power Struggles Like a Chess Game

Blog located in HR Solutions, Leadership posted on May 10, 2013

Power struggles are antiques in the making. The difference  between power struggles and antiques is that antiques acquire nostalgic value, but power struggles do not. They are seen for what they are – artificial and egocentric – not a constructive behavior.

Power struggles at work can be draining, stressful and counter-productive. But there are ways to handle these tough situations, says Linda Calindo, author of The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success — No Nonsense, No Excuses. “How do you let go of the metaphorical rope? Stop putting any energy into ‘winning the power struggle’ and get your ‘Definition of Success’ and ‘Role Clarity’ firmed up.

In fact, the pursuit of external power has no future, and neither does any professional relationship. There are no constructive consequences that can come from a power struggle. In a power struggle, your desire to manipulate your coworkers and control others conflicts with their desire to manipulate and control you.

When the outcome is more important to you than the activity, you are in a power struggle.

Beverly Hills psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent, says,”It is wise to maintain a neutral position that gives each one of the feuding partners a sense of validation from you. Taking sides risks you becoming the Bad Guy. In the end, people can turn against you. Suddenly, you could find yourself in the position of the other two siding against you. Remain friendly, kind, understanding, and give little that communicates your personal biases.”

When you are in a power struggle at work, you are facing your fears and doubts. In fact, you can identify your fears and doubts by the physical pain that occurs in your body. Physical pain in your third center is produced by fears that you cannot provide for yourself, defend yourself, or do what you need to do. Tightness in your throat, tells you that you fear to express yourself.

An excellent remedy for stopping the struggle is to think of the last time you were in a power struggle. Think about how you felt and deal with your pain. The pursuit of external power is an attempt to avoid pain.

Use your will to change your life, not the lives of others.

Once the dust settles, you want to remain standing and still have a good enough relationship with the other person to be able to work together.