Subtle Power Statements

1. “Breakfast is on the table, guys …..’

Her husband, Aniket is on the phone and signals to say he will take some more time. The mother-in-law is busy with her worship rituals and feigns not hearing the declaration from Neha. Neha knows she will swallow her medicine, and say she needs to wait for another 15 minutes before eating.

Her son is hungry, and she has to leave for work at the dotted time. Neha does not understand why can’t the MIL finish her morning routines and swallow medicines well before breakfast time. Why can’t Aniket tell the other person he will call back after 15 minutes?

She feeds her son, gulps down her cereal and walks out for office. Her husband and mother-in-law are free to help themselves at a convenient time. 

She draws dagger glances again before dinner time, but the ritual is repeated. Neha has dinner alone, and moves to the bedroom. Aniket has to do the dishes and wind up the kitchen after they eat.

Neha realised Aniket may have acquired these behavioral traits from his father. Somehow, people who deem themselves to be heads of the family derive pleasure from keeping others waiting for them at the table.

2. Anita’s mother-in-law calls when her husband is driving. She answers the phone, tells her he would call back after reaching home and disconnect. Again, the phone would ring and this time the voice is shrill, “Papa would like to talk.” Her husband takes the phone from her hands, at the risk of being penalised by a traffic cop. The matter is not urgent, and can wait.

It is their ego that drives them. How dare the children prioritise driving over their call? Common sense and norms for safe driving take a backseat over petty power hunger.

3. We used to send letters by snail mail and make long-distance calls late night around the time I got married. I was doing my fair bit to bond with my husband’s family, till the pressure started increasing. The mother-in-law kept asking for the frequency of communication to be increased. Minions are expected to pay respect every day or write every week.

My response was to cut off completely. No letters, no phone calls initiated from my side after that.


Organisations are notorious for office politics. But power games are played in homes and families all the time.

We need to recognise the subtle power statements and counteract those.

If it is a genuine problem, solutions can be found with a discussion. If unreasonable behaviour persists, it shows a desire on the part of the perpetrator to repeatedly assert authority. It is actually a case of low self-esteem, but we can’t always play counsellor to others.

The people who subconsciously acquire these traits from parents, and continue the pattern, come both from the dominant and submissive sides. It is the way they’ve seen a family function.

The man displays arrogance because he has seen his father do that. Women give in because they’ve seen their mother give in to pressure.

Severity of the problem increases in cases of domestic violence.

There may be cases of manipulation, greediness and cruelty apart from subconscious programming, where every action is deliberate.


Ignore arrogance from the beginning, and get on with your own life in the manner you want. 

Be nice to them when they behave well. In this way, you separate the person from the behaviour. And they are not able to make counter-accusations to justify their own stance. The ping-pong game of blaming and shaming will continue if you respond in the same manner.

A firm No, decisive action and a silent response to tirades is the only way to go. 


Recognise these patterns in yourself, if you are the one doing it to others. Get more creative and productive to enhance self worth. Self-esteem need not come from submissiveness of others.

More power to you….

If you have missed the series of articles in “15 Laws of Power for Women”, you may download the ebook from this link.

Author: Reena Saxena

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Published by Fiery Females

Fiery Females is an initiative to help women Be and Become

7 thoughts on “Subtle Power Statements

  1. Excellent post, Reena! Unfortunately, ignorant behaviors are passed on to the next generations and not seen as problems. Spreading awareness is key and you’re doing a splendid job with your series.

    Liked by 1 person

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