Chapter 12: Power and Communication

What comes to mind when you think of power? Is having power over others a good or a bad thing? What about others having power over you? Like most people, your answer is likely influenced by the amount of power you personally perceive yourself to have and the ways in which the power others possess has affected your life. While power isn’t inherently good or evil, it is important to understand and recognize how power dynamics shape our life choices, interactions, and relationships with others in significant ways. In this chapter, we will define what power is, describe its principles, and discuss various types of individual and persuasive power. We will also address communication competence and strategies for communicating effectively in situations where we feel less powerful, examine the link between co-culture, culture, and power, and reflect on some common ways in which power is misused in relationships.


Essential Questions:

  • What is power and how does it operate in communication and interpersonal relationships?
  • How can we ethically influence others?
  • How do we use our knowledge of power to recognize unethical influence and/or control?

Successful students will be able to:

  • define power
  • identify five principles of power
  • recognize six types of power
  • explain three modes of persuasion
  • identify five strategies for communicating opinions, rights, expectations, and boundaries
  • explain the relationships between power, culture, co-culture and ideologies
  • recognize eight types of abusive power tactics used in interpersonal relationships

  • Sections 12.0 – 12.2.2, 12.2.5, & Interpersonal Communication Abridged Textbook (I.C.A.T.); Central New Mexico Community College; 2019; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Sections 12.2.3, 12.2.3, 12.2.4, 12.3.1, 12.4.3: adapted from Wikipedia; CC BY SA 4.0
  • Section 12.3.2: adapted from Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies; University of Minnesota; 2016; CC BY NC SA 4.0
  • Section 12.4.1: adapted from Wikihow; CC BY NC SA 3.0
  • Section 12.4.2: adapted from The Open University; CC BY NC SA 4.0
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