Dale Carnegie published his famous book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People” in 1936 and it’s remained a best seller. In today’s culture we are often more interested in how to be the one doing the influencing that we forget the importance of allowing others to influence us. Well, to be more specific, it’s really important in committed relationships for partners to be able to influence each other over important things, in conflict, and in life in general.
Relationship researcher and psychologist, John Gottman, notes that men who aren’t willing to share power (i.e., influence) with their partners have an 81% chance of their marriages ending. Women, even in marriages that aren’t working well, overwhelmingly already allow their husbands to influence their decision making and thinking. Women allow influence from their partners by taking their feelings and opinions into account. So guys, this one is for you and I’m not trying to pick on you, it’s just really that big of a deal. Not learning this gives you a whopping 19% chance of marital survival after all.
Interestingly, we can actually harken back to good old Dale and note that some of his principles for doing the influencing are helpful to use to allow your partner to influence YOU. Here are some of the points that could be adapted fairly well:
Give honest, sincere, appreciation. In doing this, you are setting the stage for also appreciating your partner’s point of view. Appreciating your partner’s point of view not only helps that person feel validated and understood, but it opens you up for hearing another perspective that you can bring into your decision making.
Be a good listener. Encourage (your partner) to talk about themselves. Encouraging your partner to talk about what’s important to him or her isn’t really good enough if you aren’t listening well. Make sure to actively listen, take in the message, and reference it to take your partner’s feelings into account before you do things.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Really, this one needs a little altering. I’d recommending thinking (and doing) in terms of what’s in the other person’s interest. Let me give you a common real world example where men have believed they were doing this but failed miserably without understanding they were failing.
John asks Jane where she’d like to go for dinner and she suggests an option she’d enjoy. John nixes it so Jane suggests another and he gives a different reason why that isn’t really a good place to go. Finally, he says “how about….” and suggests something of his own choosing and Jane says “That sounds fine.” and off they go. Because Jane was agreeable and John enjoyed the choice, he thinks Jane influenced the decision about where to eat but she didn’t. You can generalize to other situations from here.
Show respect for the other person’s opinions. This is really at the base of allowing someone to influence you as well as being able to influence others. When you are truly respecting another person’s opinions, that means they should get the same level of air time and weight as your own. Don’t make your partner fight to be heard. Don’t chronically say (or act as if you believe) your partner’s opinions are “silly” or worthless or stupid. Listen for the reason and the meaning in the viewpoint instead.
Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires. Clearly this principle completely tag teams with the one above. Does your spouse like to go to movies and you prefer plays? Going to a movie once in awhile without complaining either verbally or non-verbally is allowing some influence. When you are talking about world events or pop culture, are you holding court with your ideas or is it a conversation where your partner’s ideas or thoughts are valued too? Do you actually listen when your partner is sharing his or her desires in life or are you just waiting for your turn? Does that listening turn into action on your part or does your partner have to make the desires happen for themself? Another related Dale principle that dovetails in here is to become genuinely interested in (your partner).
Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. This is that old empathy thing for the most part. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and see how you would feel or what you might want. For guys who really feel like they just need to be in charge, imagine what it would be like for the tables to be turned on you. What would you be feeling if your viewpoint or wants or feelings just didn’t matter as much as the other person? Over a long term relationship you can see where resentment is going to build. It’s actually in your OWN best interest to truly see things from your partner’s perspective because it will decrease conflict, and improve ability to compromise.
Make the other person feel important and do so sincerely. If you are truly doing this with sincerity, then by default you are going to want to take into consideration your partner’s feelings and opinions on things that matter as well as on small things. In taking those into consideration, you will make decisions and take actions that show you both count equally and that’s the bottom line in sharing influence.
– See more at: http://www.resilientrelationshiprevolution.com/how-to-allow-influence-and-win-people/#sthash.UE2Jw3EJ.dpuf
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