The Power Dynamic of an Email


When a boss sends a report an email, the power dynamic there says “I expect this to be answered.”

When a salesperson sends an email pitching their product or service, the power dynamic is on the potential customer’s side. I’ll answer this if I care to.

Sometimes it’s not the role, but the size of the institution. If a tiny company emails a medium company and offers to build an integration, the medium company has the power dynamic on its side. Eh. Maybe. We can’t dedicate any engineers to it but if you can get it done on your site, go for it. Which is the same power dynamic at play as if the medium company was hoping to integrate with a giant company.

But the power dynamic isn’t always that clear, and can teeter-totter.

A boss might be asking a report for a favor where both of them know a “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer. The power dynamic swaps.

A customer might be emailing their salesperson back after they placed an order. Now the salesperson has the power on their side. They already have your money and they hold the answers you may need. It can be frustrating as a customer when you realize you’ve lost your power.

Say that tiny company is still tiny, but it’s got people talking and the growth is off the charts. Now they’ve got much larger companies knocking at their door for integrations. Despite the company size, the tiny company has taken over the power dynamic.

I would think most people know what the power dynamic is when they press send. But it also might just be in their head. There is no public chart to look it up. The receiver might have a totally different idea in their head about what the power dynamic is.

It’s a bit of game, isn’t it?


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