Tag: rules


Elections, voting, the conferring and withdrawal of power have got me thinking about the politics of everyday life. At a dinner table one readily observes how when a particular person speaks everybody goes quiet while another gets spoken over. One person’s weak joke gets a good laugh and another person better joke gets a weak patronising laugh. In a group there might be one person who controls the conferring of rank on each member. This is the person who becomes argumentative or ridiculing when someone who is being targeted for disempowerment starts to express an opinion, or just begins to yawn loudly or dose off at the table. Using openly or passive aggressive ways to show disdain, this person signals that the person who is talking is of low rank and status. The relative status of people can be discerned when decisions have to be made. Who gets consulted and who not? When there is news who gets told first and who is often left out, always accidentally from the network? In a workplace, there are those who readily take advantage of the bosses espoused open door policy while others, sometimes senior to the welcome group, can never get an appointment to see the boss. In everyday life, there are those who are seen, heard and have a vote. There are some who have a voice but no vote. There are people who are rendered both silent and invisible. Others have a vote but are invisible, for example when their name is used without their knowledge or when they have managed to exercise control from the grave. Some people are flattered or have their praises sung just because the praise singer wants to invoke that person’s name to strengthen their own position. In the shadow world of family or office politics, rank has nothing to do with official position or title, which is what makes it pernicious and damaging. Someone may be in a high position but rendered totally voiceless, invisible or disenfranchised. The power of rank over actual position works best when it is well concealed, either by being pursued very discretely or because of implicit rules that make it dangerous for anybody to refer to or challenge the politics. In families people who challenge politics or games are usually called mad or bad. In office politics they are labelled a problem or a traitor. In both contexts challenging power plays causes ones rank to immediately be lowered to the bottom rung. People challenge and disarm these destructive dynamics when they are straightforward and say what they mean, fully show up in all their interactions as well as making sure to see, hear and respect everybody equally.

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