Wilmot and Hockers Interpersonal Conflict

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Power: The Structure of Conflict Chapter 4 of Wilmot and Hocker’s Interpersonal Conflict examines the role of power in conflict by addressing common perceptions about it, how it develops, and ultimately how to balance and use it constructively to solve problems. In regards to how we generally see power, it is something that we require to influence the way we lead our lives. We need power to speak for ourselves, to control what influences us, and also to protect ourselves from perceived harm. Differing views of power are both negative and positive, and are subject to the difference in one’s orientation towards it from another’s. Power is a fundamental concept in conflict theory that attributes three perceptions of power. The first of these is distributive power, which refers to the use of power over and against another party; it occurs when a person is able to gain power by exerting her objective over the resistance of another (96). Here a power struggle emerges with the potential to spiral into a destructive cycle such that power itself becomes the main focus of thinking and discussion. Secondly, the integrative approach to power emphasizes power that has joined forces with another to pursue mutual objectives. This use can remedy a distributive power dilemma by recognizing that a power struggles exists when they allow it to define the relationship. Instead, the ability to develop relationally is based on mutual empowerment, empathy, and responsibility to oneself and the other. Thirdly, designated power instills power to a certain relationship, not an individual, but to a collective group that she is part of. When people designate power to a greater entity, they are giving up power over, or distributive power, for the larger good of the interdependent relationship (102). Examples include policemen, politicians, teachers, and administrators as

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