"There’s a reason they call it a “power struggle”; because it is a hassle, typically for both parties, unless one of you is a masochist, of course." Author: Unknown
The next installment of our "Would You Rather" series:
At one time or another you’re going to end up in a situation (professionally or personally) where conflict ensues. On this planet, with over 7 billion lives, there’s just no way to avoid it. When that situation arises, you will be at a point of decision. What you say and do next will shape the outcome of the interaction, and quite possibly your life.
Now, we can do this the easy way; or we can do this the hard way. What’s it going to be? Let’s explore.
The first way of responding to conflict is to hold our ground, take a strong-willed stance in the matter, and clutch firmly to our position. Because we’re right, dangnamit, and we need the other party to know it. This response is considered a resistive stance and usually stems from an unconscious desire to maintain control of the situation. I call this “the hard way”.
Now, this response has its usefulness. Like when your two year old tries to run out into the street after a ball. But it’s not so effective with adult interactions. Why? Because when you have two (or more) adult figures who consider themselves to be the authority, what typically takes place when one party pushes is that the other party pushes back. I know, that doesn’t sound very adult, but that’s what happens. And what we typically end up with is two grown-up’s doing or saying whatever they can to stay on top in order to WIN. Because we all know there can only be one winner. Right?
What’s the outcome? It typically feels like rowing a boat up a stream; invigorating at first, but then it just becomes exhausting and gets you nowhere. It’s also kind of like repellent. You’re not going to make many friends with this method.
So let’s talk about another way you could respond. You could respond with a receptive stance. A receptive stance incorporates reflective listening, collaborative solution generation, and a channel of openness. The power is still there, but the flow of energy is much more equalized. Communication comes from a place of “What’s our desired outcome?” and “How can we create a win-win?”
Where does it start? It starts with you. One person has to take responsibility for creating the atmosphere to allow for safety and a mutually beneficial resolution. One person has to step up. And as we’ve discussed before, ultimately you are the only person you can control. So why not take a breath and break the push-you/push-me pattern. It can start with a simple question, like “What is it that you want?”
What’s the outcome? At first, giving up control feels…well…icky. It can feel vulnerable and exposed. But, if you keep at it, it can begin to feel like playing catch with your ten-year-old son. Or, realizing you’ve mastered a new hobby after months of practice. It feels good!
Give it a try and let us know how it goes!