power dynamics

Power and Narrative in Groups and Meetings

Author: Linda Guinee, Former IISC Senior Associate | Source: Interaction Institute Web Site, July 2018.


This blog post is about the power of story and it’s ability to influence group thinking.

Managing the power dynamics within a group is often assumed to be something that just happens as part of a collaborative process. But, it is often ignored or not directly spoken about. One of the more subtle ways that power and influence are exerted– especially in oral cultures — is through story and who tells the first story.

As facilitators and mediators, we know that stories and group narratives are an extremely valuable way of communicating and framing complex or challenging ideas within a group. What we are just learning is that the first story told and who tells them can strongly influence the direction and tone of an entire conversation, decision, or meeting that follows. Helping a group process their stories and creating a space for alternative or different narratives can be a significant part of inviting different voices and experiences into a group process.

This article shares research about the powerful influence of first stories. It then goes on to discuss practical steps a facilitator or mediator can take to effectively manage these stories and their impact on the group process. Below is also an additional article by the same author on managing group power dynamics.


Linda Guinee. Reposted by Curtis Ogden. Article: Power and Narrative in Groups and Meetings. Interaction Institute Blog. July 18, 2018.

Linda Guinee. Reposted by Curtis Ogden. Article: Revisiting “What Is Power Anyway?”. Interaction Institute Blog. July 12, 2018.

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