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Don’t Let Your Power Bleed

A friend of mine from the non-profit world is struggling with building influence and political capital in her organization. After talking with her and reading some of her email communications, it’s fairly obvious that one major issue holding her back is something called a power bleed. This is where you give away your power by over-apologizing.

Does this sound familiar to you? Perhaps you’ve worked with a power bleeder or maybe performed your version of the bleed in the past. It can be surprisingly easy to do, particularly for us Pleasers working in customer services. When we screw up (or sometimes when we have to take the hit for someone else’s muckup), we want to make sure that the person on the other end knows how apologetic we are. However, there is such a thing as overdoing it and when we go to that extreme, we do ourselves a disservice. We can actually damage the relationship.

Apologizing itself isn’t bad so don’t take this post as a reason for not showing the necessary humility when you make a gaffe like accidentally erasing an important document from your corporate server or failing to meet a project deadline for a client. God knows we need more people in business willing to offer up a sincere apology when things go wrong. Instead, what I’m suggesting is an effluence of mea culpas is not the key to success here. What is the key to stanching a power bleed? Action. To make things right, we need to take action. And by taking purposeful action, we not only harness power for ourselves but we grant power to others in the relationship.

Any good examples out there of where you’ve noticed a power bleed creeping into your conversations and relationships?

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