Power Over Versus Power With

 

Nancy Ferrell

Former CRS Mediator, Dallas Office; Private Mediator and Trainer


[Full Interview]

Question:

What about power being a factor? Do you have to provide some way where they can maintain power? We sometimes talk about the difference between "power with" and "power over." Is there any way to have power with instead of power over?

Answer:

... Before, the power, the only way they perceive themselves as having any influence is by "power over." You've got to create a new picture for them that they can buy into, and that's "power with," that still has honor and influence. If you try to diminish them and their influence, it won't work. So if you can reorient their paradigm to see that they have more influence inside the group and they can make a difference here. "You've had an incredible influence on this community. What you've done has made an incredible difference for these people, for the change in working relationships. Let's look at it a different way. You can still have influence. You're very important to this process." Many of them will see that and come along, if you'll help them create that new picture. That's one of the gifts of the third party. You don't have anything to win or lose, so they're not looking at you as a vested interest. Nobody else can play that role because everybody else is suspect. But yes, I think everybody has to have a position of honor and have some sense of personal empowerment.