The last part in our little series – How to take people with you
So over the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking at how you bring people along with you when you are determined to change.
I’ve had this conversation a bit lately. Maybe it’s just what late February is about. In January people set some clear intentions for themselves. In February, they start dismantling the obstacles.
Sadly, sometimes our loved ones can be those obstacles.
And there are people out there who take a hard line on this. They say, “Don’t worry about it girlfriend! Blow them all off. You can just go out and find yourself some new friends, a new partner, some new parents.”
I’m not one of those people. Relationships become deep and strong when we grow together… even if that growth has to happen on different time lines.
So this little series has been about how to take people with you. In the first one, I said it was important to let people’s emotions have a chance to settle – that if you can, you should try and weather the storm until you are speaking to someone’s true self again.
In the second one I said that you should know what is yours. People will try to push their discomfort back on you. Don’t accept it. There’s no need to ridicule them or judge them for it, but you don’t have to accept it either.
Today, I want to talk about separating your needs from you strategies.
I’m drawing on a bit of theory here. This is something that comes from a modality called “Non-violent Communication.” I think it’s something that a bit of a focus in relationship therapy, but I’m sure it has other applications as well.
Anyway, one thing I like is this idea of separating needs from strategies.
So say for example you say to your partner, “I need you to do the dishes!”
There’s not a lot of room to move here. Either they accept your demand, or they reject it. You’re not giving them any power in the situation. Either they obey, or they don’t.
The NVC approach is to separate the need (e.g. a clean kitchen, a sense of order), from the strategy you suggest for achieving that need (doing the dishes).
So they might suggest saying something like,
“I have a need for a clean and orderly kitchen. It makes me feel relaxed. How can you help me meet that need? Doing the dishes would help…”
The key here is that when you keep the ground focused on the need, you are allowing the other person the ability to determine a strategy that meets your needs AND their needs.
So in this instance they might say, “I hear your need. I have a need to have a beer and unwind from the day right now. So can I suggest I do the dishes in an hour?”
Or they might just say, “Sure, babe,” because they haven’t just had their power ripped away from them, dropping them into a defensive mode.
Do you see what I mean? Focus on the need, and be firm in that, but be willing to negotiate around strategy.
In the context of taking people with you, I think it can be useful to be clear about what your need is and what your strategy is.
So say you want to enrol in one of my programs. Let’s be honest, that’s a strategy. It’s a means to an end. So what is that end? What is the need its serving?
Perhaps it’s feeling more financially secure. Perhaps it’s the ability to spend more time with the kids. Perhaps it’s having a profession you can call your own.
That’s for you to figure out.
But if you meet resistance, I’d suggest bringing it back to your core need.
Because if you say, “I need to feel financially secure,” no one gets to argue with that. That’s not up for discussion. That’s what you need and that’s that.
Having established what the need is, then let them know that you are willing to be flexible around strategy.
You can say, “Ok, I hear that you don’t want me to do that particular strategy. But I have a need to spend more time with the kids, so how are we going to do that?”
Too often people will compare a course of action against the option of doing nothing, and obviously conclude that doing nothing feels safer.
But when you make it clear that action is required, and they now have to compare the particular course of action you’re suggesting against other courses of action, it often suddenly just doesn’t seem as bad.
So this is what I would suggest. Be clear in what you need, and your desire to move towards fulfilling this need.
This is non-negotiable.
But then be open and willing to collaborate on strategy. You don’t want to be a tyrant. You want to be able to work collaboratively if you can. So relax and open the conversation up.
More often than not, if the person feels that you are not set on any one course of action, they’ll feel safe – they’ll feel that together you’ll be able to come up with a strategy that meets their needs as well.
Firm in your needs, flexible in your strategy.
I know that sounds easy just writing about it, and it’s a totally different story in the heat of an argument. But just remember it. See it as a tool in your tool kit.
As I said, we want to take people with us if we can. Connections are the most important thing we have.
They are worth the work.
I hope this has been useful. And I hope it helps you
drive you and your loved ones towards the life you are hungry for.