COM 3700 Power and Conflict

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

According to Wilmot (2013), power dynamics play a central role in understanding conflicts, both in relational and other contexts (Magee, 2009; Lasswell, 2009). In order to explore power dynamics, I conducted two interviews—one face-to-face meeting with an African American male and another virtual meeting via WebEx with an American female, both from different cultural and gender backgrounds than myself.

Culture, as defined by Coleman (2014), is a dynamic and evolving system of shared patterns that intertwine with knowledge, identity, perception, behavior, and sense-making within a specific group of people (Coleman, 2014, p. 583). During the interviews, it became evident that both individuals perceived power as assigned, based on the authority bestowed by their positions. 

They also believed that the use of power could have positive or negative consequences, depending on the situation. They saw power as a means to control certain circumstances or make decisions in alignment with business needs.

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

Personally, I tend to view power as distributive or assigned, depending on the specific context. For example, in certain situations, men may exhibit more dominance when it comes to child-rearing or making family decisions. In a business setting, power dynamics can vary, with both males and females assuming dominant roles based on the significant decisions that impact the organization.

Conflict, as stated by Wilmot (2013), refers to expressed struggles between two or more interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, or interference from others in achieving their objectives (Wilmot, 2013, p. 13). 

At my current workplace, the management and leaders are typically not open to ideas and information initially. However, they do gather information and consider various perspectives to address conflicts. This approach makes staff members feel valued and that their opinions matter in certain situations.

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

In terms of the misuse of power to gain control over individuals or situations, it is more of a personal trait than an issue of power itself. Individuals who use power inappropriately are often insecure and seek to assert control to boost their self-esteem. During the interviews, both individuals agreed that positions of power provide a level of authority and decision-making autonomy, leading to higher positions within the organization.

They believed that aligning oneself strategically with other powerful individuals facilitates the attainment of similar levels of power through promotions. It seemed that they both felt that without having some degree of power, securing a position within the organization would be challenging and they would feel vulnerable in lower positions.

One example shared by the African American male interviewee was when he, as a manager, received a late-night call to resolve issues among staff members who were struggling to make a decision. Feeling stressed and influenced by various factors, he raised his voice and demanded immediate action without considering the nature of the problem. 

In hindsight, he acknowledged that using his power to control the conflict was an inappropriate decision. He later apologized to the staff and realized that avoiding the conflict altogether would have been a more appropriate approach.

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

As an Administrative Assistant, I do not perceive myself to have the same level of power as managers, so I tend to avoid conflicts. However, there are times in my role when I need to make decisions based on facts to accomplish tasks. If someone disagrees with my decisions, I encourage them to voice their opinion, and we discuss the pros and cons to reach a mutual agreement if possible.

In my personal life, I generally try to avoid conflicts to prevent unnecessary arguments, unless it is a matter I feel strongly about. My aversion to conflict is largely influenced by a fear of individuals in positions of power and concerns about the potential negative consequences for myself, such as job loss or making a decision that doesn’t meet the needs of others. The African American male I interviewed believes that power comes from authority

 and influence, and although you may not agree with a decision made by someone in power, you can express your opinion, but ultimately, the person in power has the final say. This aligns with my experiences, as I have learned that it is not necessary for people to be my friends or like me as long as we work together to accomplish the job.

COM 3700 Power and Conflict

Online communication with the American female through WebEx was less challenging than other forms of online communication, such as email messages. Reading emails does not convey the tone of voice or non-verbal cues, leading to miscommunication and potential conflicts arising from different interpretations. 

During the face-to-face meeting, she emphasized the importance of discussing conflicts with a female counterpart in person to resolve them quickly and prevent misunderstandings. I agree that face-to-face communication is more effective than email because it allows us to hear the tone of the person’s voice and observe their non-verbal cues, which are absent in written communication. The more effective the communication, the easier it is to resolve conflicts.

Conflicts in the workplace can be particularly challenging, as individuals often hesitate to express their thoughts out of fear of retaliation. While this should not be the case, there are instances where people in positions of power or authority abuse their influence. In my view, power, and authority are not necessarily the same. I believe that individuals with power seek to influence, whereas individuals with authority strive to control.

Gender is still a factor in the workplace, as there are lingering beliefs that women in positions of power are not perceived as legitimate business partners compared to men. This perception is partly influenced by how men are raised to view women. For instance, the dominant male figure in a family often holds the power to discipline and make decisions, shaping the attitudes and behaviors of children as they grow into adults. COM 3700 Power and Conflict

In conclusion, both interviewees emphasized the significance of power in making critical decisions related to business or personal situations. However, they also acknowledged that power can either control conflicts or exacerbate them, depending on how it is utilized.


Coleman, P., Deutsch, M., & Marcus, C. (2014). The handbook of conflict

resolution: Theory and practice (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN:

9781118526866.Hocker, J., & Wilmot, W. (2014). Interpersonal conflict (9th ed.). New

York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Hocker, J., & Wilmot, W. (2014). Interpersonal conflict (9th ed.). New York, NY:

McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9780078036934.Companion Web Site Interpersonal conflict (9th

ed.). (2014). Available at

Struggling With Your Paper?
Get in Touch