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The How with Power

Fight or flight

It's our DNA, it was our parents, it's our culture. Whatever the reasons, our default go-to for trying to have power or feel powerful is to fight or flee. Most often, these get us the opposite of what we want.


Fighting can be expressed many ways.  Blaming, angry, defensive, argumentative, sulking, guilt pushing, and more, expressed either more obviously, or indirectly and subtly.


Flight can be expressed many ways. Disappearing, ghosting, silence, non-responsiveness, politeness, sharing less openly, blocking messages, changing the subject, and more, expressed either more obviously, or indirectly and subtly.

The third way: the power of how

Sometimes fight or flight is the best way to get what you want. But often not.

The following "five secrets" are taken from Dr. David Burns' ground-breaking book, "Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety." 

Five Secrets of Effective Communication


The five secrets of effective communication can help you resolve virtually any relationship problem quickly. These techniques require considerable practice and must come from the heart or they’ll backfire. 

1. The Disarming Technique. Find some truth in what the other person is saying even if it seems totally unreasonable or unfair.

2. Empathy. Try to see the world through the other person’s eyes. Paraphrase the other person’s words (thought empathy) and acknowledge how the other person is probably feeling based on what he or she said (feeling empathy). 

3. Inquiry. Ask gentle, probing questions to learn more about what the other person is thinking and feeling. 


4. “I Feel” Statements. Express your own ideas and feelings in a direct, tactful manner. Use I feel statements (such as “I’m feeling upset”) rather than you statements (such as “You’re making me furious!”) 


5. Stroking. Convey an attitude of respect even if you feel angry with the other person. Find something genuinely positive to say even in the heat of battle.

The hows behind the how

But, as Dr. Burns said, "These techniques require considerable practice and must come from the heart or they’ll backfire." Implementing these instructions successfully presuppose practice and "coming from the heart." 

"Coming from the heart"

I assume that "coming from the heart" means to do something with the intention of creating a better outcome for both sides and to be able to do it with a gentle, non-blaming approach.

If you're still dominated by thoughts and feelings of unfairness and defensiveness, "coming from the heart" will be almost impossible.

Many of the tools in the OOI toolkit will allow you to undo those dominating thoughts and feelings in support of creating the space to use "The Five Secrets" detailed above.

The catch-22 of "requiring considerable practice"

Many of us have little tolerance to try new things out before we become good at doing them. We have some sort of "standard" or expectation that we should be good at things the first time we try them. 

Try on this new motto, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly, at least at the beginning."

Then notice any fear that you may still have with going ahead and "doing your best" to implement these five guidelines in your communication with the person you're having difficulty with. Then use the undoing fear process and the other three steps of choosing courage to move ahead.

If you think you need a safe place to do some practice first, you could ask a friend, someone other than the person you're having difficulty with, to stand in for that person while you do a mock conversation with them.

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