Rank is that a term I use when working with groups and especially with conflict. It comes from the work of Dr. Arnold Mindell. It is a term that some find difficult to embrace yet it’s important that we develop a new language to work with the hidden dynamics that, if unaddressed, can wreak havoc in our relationships.
Rank refers to one’s power position in any given situation. Rank is based on others perception of us and the way they experience us. We may not see ourselves as powerful but another person might. We may be blind to our power in many cases yet we could have a huge impact on those around us. Power is contextual. This means that where we hold power fluctuates depending on where we are, whom we are with and what we are doing. Where we have power we have privileges and a sense of ease in what we are doing. Where we lack power we will most likely feel awkward and uncomfortable and even afraid to voice our needs in the face of someone who just doesn’t “get” us. Power can be based on social factors such as education, family name, appearances, socio-economic background, race, gender, religion, employment, title and so on. We also can have power stemming from our psychological and spiritual resources. At the end of the day we want to develop an awareness of where we hold power and the affect it can have on others. If not, then we run the risk of marginalizing those whom with we can’t or don’t identify with. Misuse of our power is often unconscious and some intentionally abuse it!
Rank explains why some people just don’t like us or why some folks trouble us so. It explains why we can find our voice with some and not with others. It explains why revenge takes place and makes sense of some of the behaviors we see in our communities. If folks don’t feel like they can talk to us then they will most likely talk about us….or find another way to get back at us. If we hold rank and we are not conscious of that rank then folks will become irritated with us easily.
The idea is that if we work on our rank awareness we can open up the channels of communication and improve as people and in our relationships with each other. We can also develop our rank in some areas in order to become more empowered and find our voice with those in positions of authority.
Without rank awareness we run the risk of continuing the cycle of conflict with each, of remaining blind to our impact on others and of not creating the understanding we so desire.
It’s not an easy owning our power but it’s hopeful to know that we all have one kind of power or another and that we can choose to use it to empower one another. It can really open up new dialogue and create understanding amongst individuals of diverse backgrounds living and working within our communities.
So, this week begin to look at yourself through others eyes. Don’t be critical, there is no need to defend or explain your self. Rank is neither good nor bad. It just is what it is. Simply look at yourself without judgment and see how others may perceive you as being powerful, of having power/privilege and a sense of ease in the world. From there side notice what new information you can get about yourself in your relationships.
Now…. celebrate the places you have power, be thankful for your privileges and truly own your power 100%.