Our approach to ending the stalemate is 3 fold:
Empathy, Connection, and Boundaries
Ending Power Struggles and Building Connection
Whether it’s parenting a strong willed child or relating to a belligerent adult, power struggles can sap us of our energy and bring us to our knees in frustration. I want to share a few insights that have helped me in these situations, with the hope that they will aid you in your relationships….especially the challenging ones!
Ending the power struggle…
If we have a strong willed child and we attempt to dig our heals in even deeper or longer than they do, we are modeling the behavior that we are asking them to stop. I have come to see “strong willed children” as something else….namely “deeply committed to a cause.” This is, potentially, a very good thing. Yet, it requires some thoughtful engagement to navigate the intensity that it brings.
The key is to connect to the value behind the issue that is on the surface. When we can access what all the emotion and reaction is “protecting” we can better address the core concerns. The surface issue can better be navigated when the deeper issue is understood, acknowledged, and honored.
We begin by softening our heart and taking a few breaths. When we are able to be open enough to listen, we can prepare the soil of our hearts with some empathy. We might explore what they are likely facing and feeling and take a moment to honor the validity of that—even if how they are doing it is hurtful. When we no longer feel the need to fight and we can open to their experience in a genuine way, we are now ready to relate directly to them more successfully.
We might be able to initiate a conversation and hear more about their concerns. What are their priorities? What do they need and want? If we can make them feel seen and understood, they will respond differently and a creative solution that meets both our needs/standard and theirs can better be found. Removing the adversarial tone is the key to finding a win-win solution.
Our approach to ending the stalemate is 3 fold-
Empathy, Connection, and Boundaries
If we have been able to model empathy and express a genuine desire to create a win-win with the other person, we likely now have their ear to express our needs and desires as well. Hopefully, we have built the necessary good will by “going first” in pursuing their point of view and they are now ready to reciprocate.
Sometimes there is history in the relationship that makes one or both parties default to an adversarial relational pattern. Exploring the need for healing in the relationship is key if the dynamic is ongoing. Healing the root cause is the best way to not keep encountering this challenging way of interacting.
If there isn’t any history there, it’s an act of generosity of spirit to engage this person in a tender and constructive way. Maybe, you will be a key factor in helping them feel less hostile. At a minimum, you can keep from being brought into a power struggle that drains you and brings out the worst in you both.
Lastly, comes creating, communicating, and following through on boundaries. We need to be very clear on what we are asking for and communicate it to the other person. If they are able to agree to those terms, that’s wonderful! If they cannot, then you need to communicate what you will do in that situation.
Boundaries are not about telling other people what to do. They are about saying what we are going to do—and following through. It’s up to us to protect our time, energy, and belongings. If others aren’t willing to honor our requests, we owe it to ourselves to create a follow up plan and act on it.
Relating to people who are a little (or a lot) prickly can be challenging. But, if we use it as an opportunity to practice self awareness, align with empathy and kindness, and respect boundaries for ourselves and others, it can be a blessing in disguise. We all benefit from the “workout” of enhanced clarity, re-shaping our relational tendencies into useful patterns, and honoring boundaries.
It’s high level work, but the rewards are immense. To be able to de-escalate tension, lead with kindness, and be proactive instead of reactive is Gold. I hope you are inspired to go out and try these steps in a challenging relationship. Please let me know how it goes!
Cheering you on,
ps. If you would like to work with me to help you reach your goals, get more information here: Click here for details