In previous blogs, we’ve explored the struggles many of us face when it comes to addressing financial issues with other people in our lives. We’ve delved into the reasons why conversations about money can be challenging for some relationships. And as we’ve examined these topics, one small but mighty theme keeps coming up.
We live in a world and in a society that regards power as the ability of an individual or a group to influence actions, policies, people and events, especially when it comes to business and politics. But often we don’t spend time examining how power — a word packed with multiple meanings and nuanced dimensions — can affect our personal lives; and, in particular, our financial relationships.
So let’s clarify.
As part of our thorough strategy to foster healthy financial relationships, the experienced advisors at The Humphreys Group encourage each client to explore her understanding of positional power versus personal power.
- Positional power comes most often through external sources, and is heavily influenced by public perceptions that measure a person on factors that include her abilities, her job status, her possessions and her income. Conflicts about perceived positional power can contribute to a heightened sense of inequity in professional relationships, but also in individuals’ personal lives — especially when it comes to finances.
- In contrast, regardless of job, income or social status, personal power is gained whenever an individual values the unique experiences that have shaped her life; determines the values that drive her professional work and personal relationships; and stays true to those principles. We advise our clients to work on uncovering and exploring what has influenced their personal power, to see its value and to understand how they can use it to strengthen and improve financial conversations and goal-setting in their relationships.
Trying to “prove” oneself based on external measurements related to positional power inevitably affects the dynamics of any relationship. But when individuals begin to exert their personal power by expressing what matters to them, the pressure to “measure up” to others — publicly and privately — diminishes. The possibility of fewer adversarial conversations emerges when the power dynamics even out. New opportunities arise for those who share a fiscal relationship to work together to communicate and identify common values, and then develop creative solutions to any financial challenges they face.
When we better understand the principles that another person values and draws meaning from, we can develop a sense of empathy and mutual respect that informs how we handle any kind of power dynamic. Contact The Humphreys Group for expert advice on learning how to explore and exert your personal power, so you can communicate what you care about and what matters most to you when it comes to your financial life.