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Power dynamics of mask-wearing

An example:

Reporter: do you mind putting a mask on for us?
Cruz: Ah yeah, when I'm talking to the TV camera, I'm not wearing a mask

The act of wearing/not wearing and, even more, requesting and accepting or refusing to wear a mask is steeped in power dynamics.

In many situations, it's more about power dynamics than actual medical concerns.

IF CRUZ HAD BEEN SEEING THE POPE

I'm pretty sure that if Cruz had been seeing the pope, he'd have kept the mask on.

If not and the pope had asked him to wear it, he would have done so.

Why am I saying the pope, and not the US president?
Because the US president is in competition (and opposition) with Cruz, and accepting his request would have removed a lot of power from Cruz.

Instead, the pope is considered a "spiritual authority", his power comes from a different source.
And, importantly, the pope moves in a different power hierarchy.

That means that complying with the pope wouldn't have cost nearly as much to Cruz.

Stef and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Stefselffriend
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I was thinking if it would come across as smoother and more powerful plunging ahead into the speech:

Reporter: Do you mind putting a mask on for us?
Cruz: I will keep the mask off. Today, I will be talking about ...

Or

Cruz: We are immunised. Today, I will be talking about ...

He seemed to engage quite a lot with the report whether to wear a mask.

I was thinking whether deferring to the CDC guidelines was a good idea.
It suggests CDC is more powerful than him in some ways.
It seemed to also come across as a bit defensive and confrontational.

Cruz: The whole point of the vaccine. CDC guidance is what we are following.

What about cutting that out and re-stating that he is immunised:

Cruz: We are immunised.

Deferring to Someone Else in a Different Power Hierarchy

Why am I saying the pope, and not the US president?
Because the US president is in competition (and opposition) with Cruz, and accepting his request would have removed a lot of power from Cruz.

Instead, the pope is considered a "spiritual authority", his power comes from a different source.
And, importantly, the pope moves in a different power hierarchy.

I was thinking that the pope's power stems from people's respect for his position in representing the religion.
As such whether to wear a mask becomes closer to a personal request than having an underlying political context about government policies, which include pandemic measures and wearing masks.

How to Counter the Requests to Wear Masks?

Many people enjoy the small power over others through

  • deferring to the higher authority or
  • virtue signalling that they want to prevent the spread of COVID-19
  • smart-alecking by stating facts & figures

I was thinking if there are consequences to letting these power moves slip.
In my personal opinion, there is because they come across as more dominant while you seem to be obeying their orders.
They control the mask frame, allowing them to control the general frame of interactions with greater ease as well.
So it's important to respond in a power-aware manner.

If it's someone of equal power to you, something like

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Are you concerned?

Him: Yes

You: If you are concerned, I will wear a mask

This shifts the dynamics from following his orders to wearing a mask because he is concerned.
I guess it's still not ideal because you are still following his frame that masks should be worn.

Maybe if you don't want to wear a mask, painting the frame of being too uptight could work

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Is it a dealbreaker?

Him: I would feel better.

You: If it's not a dealbreaker, I will keep the mask off.

The key problem is that wearing masks has an underlying value in the medical sense like what Lucio mentions.
Some individuals take advantage of this frame to gain power albeit not a lot of power I suppose.
It's sort of like telling people not to smoke because of second-hand smoke to gain personal power.

Another Context - Can My Boss Force Me Not to Wear a Face Mask at Work?

From this Wall Street Journal article
Some employers would not like their employees to wear masks as well.
I believe that there may be power dynamics to this as well.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

the pope is considered a "spiritual authority", his power comes from a different source.

Alexis de Tocqueville says something alone the lines that he thinks the church became more poweful by disociating from the state, so as when the state falls the church stays standing.

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Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on May 1, 2021, 8:42 am

I was thinking if there are consequences to letting these power moves slip.

In my personal opinion, there is because they come across as more dominant while you seem to be obeying their orders.
They control the mask frame, allowing them to control the general frame of interactions with greater ease as well.
So it's important to respond in a power-aware manner.

If it's someone of equal power to you, something like

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Are you concerned?

Him: Yes

You: If you are concerned, I will wear a mask

This shifts the dynamics from following his orders to wearing a mask because he is concerned.
I guess it's still not ideal because you are still following his frame that masks should be worn.

Maybe if you don't want to wear a mask, painting the frame of being too uptight could work

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Is it a dealbreaker?

Him: I would feel better.

You: If it's not a dealbreaker, I will keep the mask off.

The key problem is that wearing masks has an underlying value in the medical sense like what Lucio mentions.
Some individuals take advantage of this frame to gain power albeit not a lot of power I suppose.
It's sort of like telling people not to smoke because of second-hand smoke to gain personal power.

Very good, Matthew.

The first one turns compliance into personal choice and an act of kindness.

The second one ticks to the original decision, but adds a layer of pro-sociality as well, makes escalations less likely, and it's harder to accuse of "being an ahole".

BEING FRAME AS THE AHOLE (EVEN WHEN IT'S NOT WARRANTED).

I think that's what Cruz was worried of: being framed as the ahole/dickhead, and create a controversy.

The mask camp has largely won, and that includes situations where wearing or not wearing would make little or no difference.
So when he said "we are sticking to the CDC", he power-aligned with the medical authority to avoid being framed as the insensitive ahole.

I suspect when he said "we are immunized", he wanted to say "that's the whole point of getting the vaccine: so we don't need to live with a mask on". But he stopped short and changed to CDC because he knew that the latter was unassailable, while the former would get him into trouble -and I believe it was the right call-.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Stef on May 1, 2021, 9:56 am

Alexis de Tocqueville says something alone the lines that he thinks the church became more poweful by disociating from the state, so as when the state falls the church stays standing.

To mimic that famous quote of the "the greatest trick the devil pulled... ":

The greatest trick of the church ever pulled was to make the world believe its power was only spiritual

It makes sense what Tocqueville said.
Also, by differentiating itself, the church can gain from the state with its support -or denial of support-, while not strictly tying its fate to a poorly performing state.

Matthew Whitewood and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewoodselffriend
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 1, 2021, 4:02 pm
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on May 1, 2021, 8:42 am

I was thinking if there are consequences to letting these power moves slip.

In my personal opinion, there is because they come across as more dominant while you seem to be obeying their orders.
They control the mask frame, allowing them to control the general frame of interactions with greater ease as well.
So it's important to respond in a power-aware manner.

If it's someone of equal power to you, something like

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Are you concerned?

Him: Yes

You: If you are concerned, I will wear a mask

This shifts the dynamics from following his orders to wearing a mask because he is concerned.
I guess it's still not ideal because you are still following his frame that masks should be worn.

Maybe if you don't want to wear a mask, painting the frame of being too uptight could work

Him: Could you wear a mask?

You: I prefer not wearing a mask. Is it a dealbreaker?

Him: I would feel better.

You: If it's not a dealbreaker, I will keep the mask off.

The key problem is that wearing masks has an underlying value in the medical sense like what Lucio mentions.
Some individuals take advantage of this frame to gain power albeit not a lot of power I suppose.
It's sort of like telling people not to smoke because of second-hand smoke to gain personal power.

Very good, Matthew.

The first one turns compliance into personal choice and an act of kindness.

The second one ticks to the original decision, but adds a layer of pro-sociality as well, makes escalations less likely, and it's harder to accuse of "being an ahole".

Thanks for concisely explaining the dynamics here.

Now the "if it's not a dealbreaker frame" reminds me of the time when you asked the woman:

If you are not completely against the idea of coffee, let's meet.

I cannot recall the exact phrasing.

(Continuing from Lucio) BEING FRAME AS THE AHOLE (EVEN WHEN IT'S NOT WARRANTED).

I suspect when he said "we are immunized", he wanted to say "that's the whole point of getting the vaccine: so we don't need to live with a mask on".

I had the feeling that he wanted to say this too.
I also think that this is one great reason for having the vaccine too.

But he stopped short and changed to CDC because he knew that the latter was unassailable, while the former would get him into trouble -and I believe it was the right call-.

That makes a lot of sense.
It's like power-aligning with the CEO when your colleague tries to task you.

Colleague: Could you help me to draft this document for the client?
I am working on this at the moment.

Me: The CEO has advised that I should focus on this task now.
I'm afraid that I cannot give my attention to this.

Rather than

Me: I would not like to give my attention to this.

I made the mistake of not standing up to a disrespectful request of "wearing a mask".
I was having lunch with someone so it was even more important to highlight that rudeness is not something I accept.

We finished eating and somehow one of the waitresses/manager stepped in and said

(steps in)

Her: Put on your mask

(walks away)

I didn't even get a chance to see her face.
I didn't comply and took a drink of water to show that we were still having drinks.

Once again, she came in and out with a demanding tone:

(steps in)

Her: Put on your mask when you are not having drinks

(walks away)

The person I was dining with was uncomfortable so I said "let's leave".
I walked to the counter, paid the bill and left.

In retrospect, it was ridiculous because we were clearly eating without masks and wanted to finish up our drinks before leaving.

I am also puzzled about the incentive of being rude to customers.
Either that was the manager and she was harassed over COVID measures or the waitress was cranky.

However, I think I should have said

Me: I understand there may be a need to wear a mask.
But I would appreciate a more respectful tone.

To be clear, there's a regulation that people need to wear masks when outside during this period except when drinking/eating.
However, borrowing power from a higher authority to be rude is not acceptable.

Also, as Lucio says, choosing good places to dine is an important part of your lifestyle.
As such, I will probably not bring anyone there again.
Or maybe I could go there again to practise assertiveness.


Simple Reminder When Encountering Disrespect

I think I need to remind myself to not get affected internally because, as Lucio says, rudeness can often be unexpected and shock you a little.

Maybe a simple reminder like

Either you stand up to power moves or you learn to stand up to power moves

This is easy to remember because it's paraphrased from the popular phrase

Either you win or you learn to win

In this case, I'd have simply replied:

Yeah, we're still finishing our drinks

"Yeah" is a social balm / connector, just to show that you "agree with the premise", BUT you're still drinking, so this is a rightful exception.

I'd have also raised my hand towards him, as if to say "I heard you", and to make sure he gets what you're saying, so he computes you in the "exception list".

Also optional was to start a dialogue with "excuse me sir" first, then explain tell him you're a law-abinding citizen who takes the law seriously, BUT you're still drinking right now.

OFF-TOPIC

Thanks for the indirect heads up.
I've taken Covid seriously this whole time will keep doing so until I think it makes sense. But mandatory masks outside is an overkill in my opinion.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks for the advice.

Now I see how you don't need to always address an overly dominating/aggressive tone.
Sometimes it's best to try for a collaborative stance and see how to make things work.

I suppose this is an agree and redirect frame control method.
The redirect involves focusing on the rightful exception.

And the explanation of how I am law-abiding takes away the higher authority power.
Indirectly, one acknowledges he understands and respects the law.
At the same time, one points out that this is a rightful exception.

Maybe Cruz Could Have Used This Technique

Reporter: Could you wear a mask?

Cruz: I take COVID seriously, and we follow CDC's guidelines.
I am vaccinated so it's okay.

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