How to Tell if Someone is Playing Power Games with You

When it comes to feeling valued and respected at work, it’s important to avoid powerless behaviors.  It’s also important to pay attention to how people treat you.  Is someone playing a power game with you and you don’t even realize it?  Here are some ways to tell:

  • Someone initiates a meeting with you but insists that you come to his or her office for no real reason.  If he or she is your boss or ranks higher in the organization, this is appropriate.  But if the person is your equal or below you, be careful.  Suggest that he or she come to your office or meet in some neutral territory such as a conference room or cafeteria.
  • Someone often keeps you waiting on purpose, but you know it’s not just that they’re poor at time management.
  • Someone repeatedly rejects your ideas and insists on new ones in a rapid-fire, high-pressure atmosphere.
  • Someone is always looking down on you, literally.  Some people maneuver themselves and their office furniture to make sure they are always at least at eye level or higher than you.  They may be angling for height advantage because they feel at a disadvantage in other ways.
  •  Male or female, someone touches your hand or arm in a familiar way as if to say “Honey, it is going to be alright” or “Don’t worry your pretty little head, I can take care of this.”  If they are touching something else, you have a bigger problem!
  • Someone is determined to have a blank expression in response to anything you say.  Usually a poker face means he or she wants to keep important thoughts hidden.

How do you respond to these power plays?  That’s up to your personal style and your relationship.  However, it’s important that you take a mental step back and notice what’s going on and identify strategies to maintain your feelings of confidence and self-worth.   


About Mary Foley

Get more free resources to increase your career confidence at, including your Free Sanity, Confidence & Fun Action Pack with eBooks How to Thrive on Shift & Change for Your Career and What Every Woman Must Know About Office Politics eBooks. Mary inspires women with practical advice to create sanity in your life and confidence in your career – all while having a bit of fun!  She is the author of three books, a popular national speaker, and former co-host of the Girlfriend We Gotta Talk! radio show.  Find out more at



In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.