Reciprocal relationships are the ideal. The give-and-take that allows for equitable contribution and advantages promotes healthy growth for both parties. At the heart of a healthy relationship is a base of empathy and authenticity in both parties. In a perfect world every relationship you form would fall into this mutually beneficial design.
But in our increasingly self-absorbed world, you are statistically bound to enter relationships that are one-sided and even dangerous. Power and self-promotion are aggressive and predatory traits that lie at the base of these destructive relationships. And, as with all negative traits, they take over and subvert any hope of a good, solid relationship.
Unfortunately, some of these relationships are necessary. Work, social, familial – any situation that forces you to interact with someone who falls into the category of difficult person makes avoiding these people altogether impossible. So, to protect yourself, you must formulate a plan and stick to it when dealing with them. Here are some key components to devising a plan that works.
Set Your Boundaries
You are a distinct person. So is the person you are dealing with. Separate, with different histories, different motivations, different perspectives and goals. If you are dealing with someone who is motivated by power, you will have to know yourself, your values, and your limits, and know them well. Any wavering on your part may be an invitation for exploitation. Knowing where they lie and becoming confident in asserting them is essential.
Bring Empathy to the Interaction
We all have wounds in our past. These wounds shape how we interact with people. Keep in mind that you will not know the extent of a person’s challenges, the kind of injuries that make someone behave the way they do. If you knew a person’s complete history, it might appall you. If you remember this while you are interacting with these people, it will make it easier for you to separate the person from their behavior.
Important: Empathy is a double-edged sword. Having empathy for a person’s past does not mean you allow that person to dominate or manipulate you, which brings us to our final component.
Commitment to Calm Assertion
Dealing with power-driven people is a trigger for your hot buttons. They love to gain control over you and you losing command of your anger is proof to them that they are in control. Use discipline and firm assertion to get your point across without raising your voice, flying off the handle, or resorting to violence. If hot-button issues are a challenge for you, work on your EQ. Practice calming your mind when pushed and take up practices like meditation for serenity and peace.
You can’t change someone else’s behavior, but you can be a model of healthy behavior to look up to. Difficult people often strive to win on their own terms. With a dedicated plan and calm, but firm, assertion you can stop their manipulations dead in their tracks.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson