Obedience

Why Do People Obey?

People obey instructions or orders for various reasons. And leaders persuade people to obey using various strategies. Look at stories. Look at movies. Look at your own life. What is the relationship between the people who give orders and the people who follow them? Give evidence, including page numbers if appropriate, for your answers. Then decide: what kind of leadership creates an environment in which everyone feels a sense of belonging and accomplishment?

1. Force: “If you don’t obey me, I’ll verbally or nonverbally hurt you.”

2. Superiority: “I know more, so you should listen to me. I am much better at this than you are, so you should listen to me.”

3. Ability to Reward: “If you do what I tell you, I will give you something you want.”

4. Admiration: “You want to be like me, so you will follow my advice.”

5. Acceptance: “You believe it is proper that I am the one who gives instructions in this relationship and you are the one who obeys.”

6. Information: “You will use the new information I have given you to verify or modify your own thinking and behaviour.”

Adapted from World War II by Donita Covey. Solski Group, 1995.

This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided:
©2012 Sophie Rosen.

One Way to Practise

Use this chart to choose a role and practise various skills. Notice why you and others cooperate with the leader.  Notice the verbal and nonverbal reasons the leader gives for why you should cooperate. Think about the type of environment in which everyone can be productive and feel a sense of belonging.

Name: _________________________________________  Div. _________   

Observer  Date: _____________________
My seat for today: ____ my choice        ____ assigned:

1. noticed that these people contributed to class lessons:

2. noticed that these people contributed little or nothing during class lessons:

3. noticed that I got this work done during class time:

Today I cooperated because __________________________________________________________

Recorder Date: _____________________
My seat for today: ____ my choice        ____ assigned:

1.    heard these new facts during class lessons today:

2.    heard some facts I already knew during lessons today:

3.    have some questions about what we did in class today:

Today I cooperated because __________________________________________________________

Speaker Date: _____________________
My seat for today: ____ my choice        ____ assigned:

1.    volunteered these ideas and facts during lessons today:

2.    asked these questions during lessons today:

3.    helped these students today:

Today I cooperated because __________________________________________________________

This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided:  ©2012 Sophie Rosen.

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