Handling Power and Politics LO2232

Tue, 25 Jul 1995 20:00:30 -0400

In LO2193, Ketan Lakhani wrote...

>Whoa! Just because you can't accept it, it doesn't mean its not there.
>And power and its uses - and these are vital for simple survival -are NOT
>incompatible with integrity, understanding et al.

>May I suggest that your resistance is two-fold:
>1. From associating politics and power with politicians who are not any of
>the above - ie integrity etc.
>2. From being a victim of manipulation.

>The reality we all manipulate - from trying to get better service in a
>restaurant to "growing" children to the values of integrity etc. We
>constantly try to configure the world according to our world-view.

>The trick is to do it with integrity etc.

OOH! I had to respond. The whole issue of manipulation, power,
politics, may be in an organization, but they do not have to be
dominant. I suggest reading Overcoming Organizational
Defenses by Chris Argyris for those who do not believe these
things permeate our cultures. We are so used to them that we
have a difficult time seeing something other than what we have.
"It is today. Therefore it must be there tomorrow."

American Heritage Dictionary:

manipulate - to influence or manage shrewdly or deviously

My meaning of manipulation implies something being done to me of
which I am not aware. My meaning of "you having integrity" is that
you are above board with your intent.

I would hope that if "the other person" on this digest happens to
be any of you and you want to manipulate me. Please follow my rule
for me on integrity. You be an adult, respect me as an adult (no fancy
footwork per Chris Argyris - give me enough respect to believe I can
handle the truth), and IF YOU HAVE INTEGRITY, you will tell me
that you are trying to manipulate me. The rest of you may define
integrity differently.

For Dave Buffenbarger, if you attempt to change me in some
manipulative way, I will rebel. I can smell you coming ten miles
away. Fact, people in the organization can also tell this about
you. This is what I was attempting to describe sometime back in the
difference in leaders. There are the ones who are authentic, their
very being vibrates with presence, truth, honesty. There are
others who do the same things but are not the same in how they
are as a person - their "beingness". They know what is best for
me, the organization, their team, their superiors. They are the
knowers, instead of the learners. But, we know who those
leaders are since they are insincere and we do not respond
except from fear.

I just do not understand what makes someone believe that they
know what is best for me? Personal Mastery makes me somewhat
immune to YOUR manipulation. It does NOT make me immune
to OUR COLLABORATION. And, if I read the Fifth Discipline
correctly, TEAM LEARNING is about surfacing objective reality,
telling the truth, authenticity. I do not believe manipulation fits
the description of the overtness I feel in the words truth and

For those who have been on a team intensely focused on learning
instead of impressing others, you will know what I mean. I have
been on two in my life. We did not play power and politics. We did
not have the time. We wanted to spend our precious time learning,
instead of preening, manipulating, and politicking. Incidentally, on
both teams, we would tell anyone point blank we wanted to influence
them to see points of view another way. AND, when we felt someone
was sneaking back into the classical mode of manipulation, we said so.

Is it called MANipulation for some reason?? (Just kidding!!)

Have a great day!!

Dave Buffenbarger
Organizational Improvement Coach
(517) 638-7080
Dow Chemical Company