Power Of Responding
Responding To People Who Are Upset With You
Real Power Is Being First To Admit You Made A Mistake
When the idea of POWER is transformed into being response-able, you will find arguments are turned into healthy dialogue. Immediately take responsibility for your part in a conflict. This buys you credibility and the space to talk about what you want the other to understand about your perspective. After owning what’s true about your behavior, it opens up the ears of people who may be upset with you. When you explain yourself first, without owning your part, you ensure the other will continue to make the case against you.
For example, a wife says with irritation in her voice, “You said you would take the trash out this morning! It’s overflowing!” It’s easy for a guy to get plugged in to her irritation by giving reasons or excuses why it didn’t happen. It’s hard to picture her saying, “Oh, all right then. It’s O.K.”. Explaining actually makes her more likely to keep making her point. Imagine her response though, if his first words in responding to her were:
“That’s right I didn’t do what I said.
I can understand why you’re upset.
I’ll get it right now.”
The word POWER denotes strength and a sense of not being easily wounded. The transformation of personal or business arguments takes place when we understand what real power looks and sounds like. For instance, you see a man at a store criticize his wife loudly in an angry manner. Does he look powerful? Or, do you think that he is weak somewhere in his character? Do you know people who often minimize, deny, or justify their behavior when you comment on what they’ve done? Do they look secure or insecure as they provide excuses for their behaviors and choices? Our ego, pride and insecurity gets in the way of being able to attend to the other person’s experience right away. Adrenaline then makes it difficult to take responsibility or have empathy for the other. We get so concerned about reflexively explaining our point of view that the argument keeps going and going.
It is defensiveness that broadcasts a lack of power. It can convey a bit of guilt also. Shakespeare knew it when he wrote, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”
The Power Response sounds like this:
- Own what you said or did first.
- Acknowledge the other’s thoughts or feelings.
- Say what you’re going to do about it.
In over 30 years of my psychotherapy practice I’ve seen perhaps a thousand couples. Most of them had problems of unnecessary arguing. I say unnecessary arguing because if either partner used this simple method there would more likely be a healthy dialogue. First, address the other person’s disturbance before attempting to get the other to hear your point of view. Those are simple words. Simple yes. Is this an easy thing to do in practice? Not really!
You may read these steps and say to your self, “Of course, that makes sense. I knew that.” Shortly after reading this you may be face to face with someone who is upset with you. It may be your husband, girlfriend, boss or work associate. The adrenaline courses through your veins and you will reflexively defend and explain your self. That’s when you’ll look for this issue of Whole Life and review the three steps. It works, if you work it.
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