What has us feel powerless in our efforts to influence others? How can we balance the power between us in key relationships?

Many of us feel our power is limited to our ‘role’ in society, on the organizational chart, or the generation of the family tree. If we feel that our wants and needs are not as important or more important than those around us, we may see others as ‘above us’ or ‘below us’. This perspective can prompt us to say yes to things we really don’t want to do, prevent us from asking for what we really want, or include/exclude others when working towards shared solutions. We may not make an equal paycheck, have equal decision making power, or take equal risks. Yet, we ARE equal in our right to define and pursue what we want and how it effects what we are trying to create together – our shared purpose. We ARE equal in our right to give what we want to give and to NOT give when it creates and obligation or a burden. 

When we start to see what we want, and what we are willing to do from a new frame of reference, we begin to see everyone’s wants and needs as equal which frees us up to see new solutions in our relationships. From this perspective, we stop looking to others as the source of what we want, take responsibility for what is best for us, and create win/win solutions that empower everyone involved.

For example, my colleague and had a 3-hour drive to a company event and agreed that we both wanted to have a relaxing and pleasant drive together. That was our ‘shared purpose’. I wanted to listen to rock and roll, I didn’t want to drive, and I wanted to stop every hour to stretch. She wanted to listen to country music, she didn’t want to drive and wanted to stop 2 times to stretch. Once we each shared what we wanted with each other, we then asked each other the question “is there anything you are willing to do to support what I want”? Together we agreed to listen to a podcast we both were interested in, split the driving 50/50 and stopped 3 times to stretch. We both got what we wanted and felt supported in getting it without expecting the other to respond in a certain way, and we did not expect ourseleves to do something we didn’t want. When we see each other’s wants and what we give as equal, we can balance the power in our relationships. We can each stand up for what we both want, without saying yes to something we don’t want.

It takes courage and persistence to ask for what we want, even when we know that others want something different. Our job is to state what we want anyway and then be open to ways it can come, instead of looking to the other person to fulfill it for us. Once we both know what we want, we can determine if there is anything we are willing to give to help the other get what they want. We only give to them when it feels like a GIFT. If it feels like a burden or an obligation is required, SAY NO.

How can you balance the power in your relationships today?