8 responses to “On holding space when there is an imbalance in power or privilege”

  1. Claire

    Beautiful and helpful writing as usual, Heather.

    I would like to know more about this, though: “If you lack power, say that too, in as gracious and non-blaming a way as possible.”

    Would you have a story of an example on this? Or perhaps this merits another blog entry? Thanks!

  2. Ria Baeck

    hello Heather and all,
    I have recently been in two workshops related with Process Work – WOrld Work – they know quite a lot about ‘rank’ – it is one of their core concepts and work with it all the time.
    I learned there that ‘sitting in a circle’ and the capacities to do that might hold a Western middle class value – that is not shared by other groups or cultures. Good to know that too!

  3. Having Important Conversations when there is a Power Imbalance | Democratic Party of DuPage County

    […] Don’t pretend to know how the other person feels. Each of us has READ MORE […]

  4. T is for Training 165: There is no punchline, only Zuul | T is for Training

    […] We want to note that Heather Plett has written a follow-up to the posts on “holding space”, which is “On holding space when there is an imbalance in power or privilege.” […]

  5. Charie Jones

    I would love to receive a pm on my FB page inbox. I was led to this article by your beautiful sharing of “holding space”, and “holding space for yourself”. I find myself in a powerless predicament this morning. I have been “holding space” without knowing the phrase, for two very dear people in my life. I have been told I have an unconditional love for one and I am a doormat for both. At the risk of sounding like a quick advice seeker I read your posts and consider asking for guidance. I have a friend that is concerned about my relationships and I feel responsible to review them for the effort he has invested in observing my behavior and these two specific relationships. I would like to go into further detail but would not feel right about exposing private detail on an open chat. Just know I am searching for who is “holding space” for me. I read you spoke of having support during your support of others. I am graciously asking for advice and mentorship in my dear relationships. I have come to a nodal point in both and don’t know how to proceed. Not wanting to give up on them but openminded boundaries seems a contradiction for me, in terms. Thank you for your “e” encouragement. It’s refreshing to finally read a blog on the internet that is forthright in compassion for humanity. I clicked on a Facebook share from a friend that led me to you. Let me know if you can help. Thank you, again.

  6. Sarah


    Thank you for your helpful posts on the concept of holding space. I struggle with the broadness of holding space for others in the presence of a power imbalance because that too feels akin to a use of one’s privilege. It is one thing to attempt to hold space for an individual’s experience, for example; but in a more socio-political sense, holding space for oppressed people from a position of privilege rides a fine line between action that is beneficial for progress and using that power to “white knight.” For example: openly acknowledging power imbalance can both clear the way to change and perpetuate the problem that only voices with power get air time. How do you reconcile that?

    Overall I found this post helpful, but I have one issue – your advice… “If you lack power, say that too, in as gracious and non-blaming a way as possible.” No. An oppressed person Is not obliged to address a power imbalance by being polite, sugar coating their complaint, presenting a submissive or demure persona, or beginning with an apology to make their voice more palatable to those who maintain the imbalance. People lacking power in a situation must hold space for themselves and give themselves permission to feel, to speak, and to do so without reservation or apology. There is no room for graciousness when speaking up in the presence of injustice.

  7. What it means to "hold space" for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well - Heather Plett

    […] have to write on the walls: Some thoughts on holding space for other people’s personal growth On holding space when there is an imbalance of power and privilege Leave space for others to fill your needs What the circle holds An unresolved story that I […]

  8. Waking up | Jennifer K Miles

    […] recently. Heather Plett had come to my attention through a thought piece she did a while back on holding space, and her latest piece speaks to me deeply about the experience and ongoing work of my […]

Leave a Reply