Using power over others

In my Communications class a few weeks ago, the professor asked the class to discuss “under what circumstances is it appropriate for a person to use the power he or she has over another person to satisfy personal goals“. Most of the class said it was never appropriate. I was the first (and one of the few) that disagreed with that. I thought my original comment, as well as a few of my replies were good so I decided to repost them here.

My Original Post
I think it is appropriate for a person to use power over another to satisfy personal goals under many circumstances. For example, I have a 22 month old son. As a result, I have legitimate power over him. I have a personal goal to make sure that he is safe. When he does something that could potentially hurt him, I will use reward and/or coercive power to make sure that he doesn’t. I have another personnel goal of growing my business. Therefore, my customer’s rely on my expert power when they hire me.

Replies to others 1
Normally I agree with you on these topics, but time I am forced to disagree. I think there are times when it is appropriate and necessary to use power over others to satisfy personal goals. That is the basis for our capitalist society. A person uses their expert power on others when they offer goods or services that others want, desire, and/or use. In return, the person who desires those goods or services uses their reward power to pay for these good or services.

Replies to others 2
I agree with you about that a person shouldn’t abuse the power they have over someone. But can someone use the power they have over someone without abusing that power? What if the husband in your example uses his power over his wife to keep her from sitting on the couch all day watching Oprah and eating bon-bons? Is that appropriate?

Replies to others 3 (someone I agreed with)
I agree that a boss often times needs to use their power over employees to satisfy personal goals. The boss wants his/her department to double efficiency, for example. That’s his personal goal. So, he/she uses his/her power to get the employees to work more efficient. Great point!

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