The way we tend to base our relationships with others is by the power control that they have to us. Your behavior to someone that is similar to you, such as a friend, drastically differs from how you would treat a parent or an authoritative figure, such as a teacher. Why the difference? Because of the power they have over you. A friend would be considered your equal, while a teacher is a person that has a type of authority to you, giving them a type of power. Although this is being stated clearly, this is not the power control that we are focusing on for the continuation of this topic.
Control is defined as the party in a relationship that has the power to influence the other. This splits into two types of control: conversation and decision. Conversation requires the upper hand of whom talks the most in a conversation, whom interrupts whom, who changes the topic, etc. it’s the power of who deems themselves to seem more important in discussion. Decisions implies the control that someone in a relationship makes to determine the outcome, like what are the plans for an evening or what the money for a budget will be used for.
Relational outcome is determined by how the control is split. When people don’t have ideas that seemingly match up and the distribution of control is majorly unbalanced, then problems ensue. If power control is too similar, like there are arguments on who has the control or neither person offers up control of a situation, this can also cause a number of relational issues. Healthy relationships rely on an equal distribution of power in a flexible way. Sharing the responsibility of making decisions strengthens the relationship: taking turns on who picks the plans, or splitting up the responsibility of who is in charge of what tasks in a household marriage (bills, car repairs, driving kids to activities, etc). Favors also keep the power control so that it’s equal. If a favor is requested from another person, others will usually give in with the intent of cashing in an equal favor later on. If relations seem equal, it is because they are healthy.
In order to gain power control, people tend to compete to gain the upper hand. Situations tend to be seen as either/or scenarios—someone will win and get what they want, and someone will lose and not get what they want. But whoever wins gains control over the other, because in turn they become “superior” and seem powerful. Sports teams competing and potentials for a job interview can be seen in this same way. As intelligent beings, we like power control because in most cases we want things to go our way. Most of these tend to be for selfish reasons rather than having control that benefits everyone. In some cases, such as presidential elections, candidates want this power control because they want to help a general population of people to create change and improvement.
The Disney Lesson
Scar from The Lion King was considered second in line to be king until the birth of his nephew, Simba. Outcasted from his place in the Pride Lands, he was upset with losing his chance to be king because he wanted power and the ability to have control over others. In order to gain this control, he killed his brother, Mufasa, and convinced Simba that the death was his fault, instructing him to run away and never return. Winning the title of becoming king, Scar had the upper hand and seemed superior to others. Later in the film when Simba returns, they compete and fight for the right to be king, Simba standing up to his birthright because he wanted to make the correct decisions and help people, rather than Scar’s selfish tendencies to just have control. Scar demonstrates how power control can effect our nature—it can turn us selfish and drastically impact how we affect others, while Simba’s reasoning to gain power was to benefit everyone and create a power that was good. Our intentions behind our power determines how our power control will be. It can either be selfish or helpful.
Charlotte and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog lived two completely contrasting lifestyles. While Charlotte came for a very wealthy and prestigious life, Tiana was from a more poverty-stricken area. Despite their monetary power differences, they had equal power in their friendship because they shared the responsibility of making decisions. Their personalities were different, so it appeared that Charlotte had more control because she was louder and bolder, but in reality they both shared the responsibility of making decisions in their friendship, giving equal power to both of them. They both knew what roles they played, and they both offered favors to help the other for the goodness of their friendship. No one had more weight and no one was superior—they had a healthy relationship. Sharing the power in our relations keeps us on equal terms with one another. When someone feels or become inferior, that’s when problems start to ensue. Equality keeps relationships stable and happy.