A Real Power Trip

mistakeRecently, a client used the V8 palm-to-forehead smash when he realized that people who piss him off are executing their power over him. To rage and attack such people just further proves that the antagonist has total control over him. He gets completely engaged in the game, which is being directed by the other person. 

Sound familiar?

I poke you. What do you do? Poke back, right? We learned it on the playground. “Don’t let anybody push you around,” your older brother said.

But we’re grown-ups now. Is this really the way to act?

There’s no question that there are people out there who know how to push our buttons. Most of them are physically and socially quite close to us (family, coworkers, friends). But the buttons they’re pushing are directly connected to our Knower/Judger…that part of us that reacts automatically. When our K/J kicks in, we’re not thinking. We’re executing a reflexive response that we’ve been programmed to execute in these specific situations.

Are these the responses you really want to give in these situations? Are they getting you the results you want?

Who’s really winning, anyway?

Let’s say the other guy wins. You fought hard, but he finally pulled out the big gun and you backed down. Successful outcome?

OK. Let’s say you win. He barks “#%&@ you!” and storms off to lick his wounds. Great working relationship, right?

This all boils down to understanding that you want something more important than chalking one up for your ego. You want long-term benefits and to achieve your goals, whatever they are. In my experience, ego wins don’t result in long-term benefits.

The challenge is being present enough not to get sucked in. The quote I use most frequently on this blog is by Viktor Frankel: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

If growth and freedom don’t represent power and long-term benefits, then your K/J and mine did not read from the same dictionary! 

In that space we can make a choice to do something other than what we would ordinarily do…and take charge of the interaction.

Really? Yes, really. 

How to really win.

Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Eckhart Tolle, the Bible, and Dr. Martin Luther King have all provided a piece of advice about turning the other cheek or walking away. Therein lies the real POWER.

Unless there are weapons involved, is it really important for you to verbally defend yourself? (I suspect I’m ruffling some feathers with that!) Compare the immediate ego satisfaction of jousting with the other guy and the long-term benefit of getting him to see your point and proceeding productively. Because that’s the trade-off. 

When our K/Js start challenging each other in discussion (customarily known as an ego battle), the real issues are ignored. Reality takes a back seat. Nothing gets resolved other than who has the tougher ego. It looks like power. The winner had enough power to prevail. But the loser also gives up. Great working relationship, right?

What if the other guy had more accurate data than you? You missed it…but you won. Your shipment never went out. But you won the fight. It’s all about deciding which is more valuable to you: long-term productivity or the need to be right. 

Unless the plan is to carry this royal battle to an ultimate conclusion of murder (where all ego battles will end up if carried to conclusion), one of you is going to withdraw. And one of you is going to win the ego battle. Once you understand and decide that the long term is more important to your well-being than the ego battle, you can choose to end the struggle immediately. And therein lies your power.

There is a pair of affirmations I’ve watched clients use that worked wonders on their ability to lead: 

·        “They might be right.”

·        “Every idea’s a good one for at least five minutes.” 

Can you see how entering the fray with that perspective can change the atmosphere?

Choosing power even when you “know” you’re right. 

“But wait a minute,” you protest. “What if he really is dead wrong?” (Meaning the person you’re battling is not using accurate data, or his interpretation will somehow not benefit the future.)

Do you honestly believe you can convince him that you’re right while your egos are locked in battle? You’re both going to be in hyper-defensive posture and the facts be damned! The only chance you have (power!) of the two of you actually looking at data and admitting or discussing any doubt is to not be in your K/Js. 

Remember the concept that no learning takes place in one’s K/J? Inside the ego battle, no minds are open! Not his or yours! You’ve both got a battle to win!

So Mr. Antagonist goes “Blah, blah, blah,” which you understand to be in error (bad data, bad logic, whatever). 

Plan A: “You’re messed up, Mr. A. That won’t work.” Mr. A furrows his brow and sets his teeth for the battle.

Plan B: “Wow! You’re right. I never saw it that way.” Mr. A’s face says, “Well thank God he sees I’m right. No need to defend my position.” 

Which one has the potential to keep the dialogue going on subject? Right. Plan B.

“OK,” you say. “But I lost the battle.” So what? You’re now engaged in a discussion about how he arrived at his conclusion, and you have a chance to share your data. Would you agree that Plan A would never get you there?

 I guess the bottom line here is to respect that space between stimulus and response. We can make a choice in that space to not react as we usually would, and doing so can change our world.

 

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