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True Power vs False Power

Hello guys,

I think this an important topic. I will take the definitions of

Power: the ability to influence reality around oneself

Social power:  the ability to influence reality around oneself through other people or the ability to influence other people's behavior (which is the same).

@lucio has talked a lot about Power Scalping (see dictionary). It's a very important topic. I also talked about Triangulation, which is the control of communication between 2 people: ou gain power by becoming the middle man between two people.

So I had this idea of :

True Power: the ability to influence reality around oneself through your knowledge, charisma, etc. basically anything that comes from your inner abilities. The things that nobody can take away from you.

False Power: the ability to influence reality around oneself through external means like Protocols, Guidelines, titles, other people's authority (the boss told me to). The things that do not belong to you. Like Power Scalping or Triangulation.

I think the concept of false power is important because it shows that if you maneuver right, you can cut the person from their source of power. Examples:

Protocols and Guidelines: if you don't understand why they are in place or what they mean, then you're borrowing the power from a written paper.

Titles: if you say "do that because I'm the chief", it means that as soon as you don't have this title, people don't respect you.

Other people's authority: people do what you're telling them because of the other person, not because of your knowledge, experience, know-how or inner qualities.

I'm not saying one is better than the other as we need both of course. However it's important to recognize that some people are despicable people but are able to steal a lot of power from external sources. It also helps to recognize the importance of being our own source of power.

Reading the original source is better than learning from second-hand. It's better to be respected from one's character than from one's title, and so on.

What do you think?

John,

I like this concept.

I think it has potential.

There is of course some overlap, since all forms of power influence each other.
But the overlap is not endless, and this grouping might add value.

It can also add value from a strategic point of view.
Since some people tend to either focus too much on "real power", thinking that the "false" one doesn't matter. Or, worse, the other way around, disregarding true self-development.
Reminding oneself that both forms of power can be limited by the other can be a powerful reminder to self-development oriented folks to also take care of the "false" power, including strategizing for it -and against it, when used against them-.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I like it too, yet I would suggest against calling power that comes from external sources "false" as I think it is very real.

I would call it: power by proxy (when you use someone as an agent of your power or executioner of your will), or exogenous (sourced) power when, as you explain it, you can be unplugged from the source relatively easy in some/most cases.

I agree with you, Stef.

Also, the name "false" can lull people into a false sense of superiority that ultimately reduces their power, as they might look down on external forms of power which can actually be equally effective, within certain environments.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I agree with both Stef and Lucio that "false" power IS real power. In fact, I would argue that charisma, what you call "true power" should be called fake power, since you are merely persuading people that you have power without having anything to tangible to actually back it up (which is in actuality what power really is, being able to influence others, whether or not it can actually be backed up).

I get what you mean JP, just to express it in a maybe clearer way: the ability to fake power is power by itself, fake power (we may call it bluff power as in poker) ends being true power IF people take it as real or even if you just instill enough doubt in their minds/hearts to alter their mindset, mood, emotions, actions, behavior, etc.

Kind of a "self fullfiling prophecy" or "reflexivity phenomena" as George Soros would put it, or something like that.

Thank you for your feed-back, guys. You helped me to see more clear:

So here is my modification:

  • Inner Power: the ability to affect the World through your own qualities (character, knowledge, skills, experience, body language, etc).
  • Outer Power: the ability to affect the World through external means (relationships, status, money, titles, etc.)

Regarding classification, here is my proposition:

In the Outer Power category, we find Social Power. In Social Power, we find borrowing power (tactics).

Coming back to :

Protocols and Guidelines: if you don't understand why they are in place or what they mean, then you're borrowing the power from a written paper.

Titles: if you say "do that because I'm the chief", it means that as soon as you don't have this title, people don't respect you.

Other people's authority: people do what you're telling them because of the other person, not because of your knowledge, experience, know-how or inner qualities.

I think these are cases of borrowing power from an external source:

  • Protocols and Guidelines: from institutions and groups
  • Titles: from institutions and groups, especially states (doctor) or business (senior business associate)
  • Other people's authority : from somebody else who has a formal (title) or informal (high social status within any group) authority

Of course you can then borrow power in a legitimate/official way or in a deceptive way, which I think would be a form of power scalping.