Inspiration Vs. Manipulation – Knowing the Difference will Enhance Relationship Success

Inspiration in the Forest

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: You can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.” A friend of mine posted this quote by Simon Sinek on Facebook. Simon Sinek is “fascinated by people and organizations that make the greatest and longest lasting impact on the world.” I have watched his Ted Talks many times, and indeed am always inspired.

Like Simon, my friend is an entrepreneur herself who is seeking to inspire others. She is a mother of seven and a business builder.  Furthermore, she is someone who values the positive impact fostering healthy human relationships has on a system. She is truly inspirational.

Inspiration within the Role of the Relationship

This quote resonated with me in a significant way. The goal of our Couples Therapy Program is to help build better relationships.  Our hope is to mold human behavior by inspiring our couples to inspire one another.  A relationship, or couple unit, is a “system” or organization. Each person plays a role in the functioning of this system. If something is “broken,” or in some way hinders a part of the system’s ability to function, the system struggles to operate as it should.

This quote, and what it means to inspire others, reminded me of how change is influenced between a couple within the therapy room.  The behavior connected to inspiring another to change, looks different from enforcing change.  Positive regard is pertinent to facilitate the change that enables a couple to function in positive ways.  Not only will this way of thinking help with how the system functions, but it also is what allows a couple’s relationship to thrive.

Relating this Notion to the Couples System

In all relationships we have needs, wants, and desires. Effective communication of each of these components is necessary to building a better bond.  It is also what helps to promote understanding between a couple. Yet, we are human.  Outside factors such as stress, insecurities, fear, and so forth play a role in the couple’s relationship success. Furthermore, success for one couple or relationship is very likely to look different for another.

Dr. John Gottman states that what we should be looking for is the “good enough relationship.” What this means is that our expectations of one another are neither too high nor too low. That you as a couple have one another’s best interest in mind and are able to cherish what you find in one another rather than resent what is missing.

Looking at your relationship in this way, follows along with Dr. Gottman’s Sound Relationship House Theory.  This theory is core to the development of the Gottman Method for Couples Therapy.  The house is a representation of a relationship. The floors within the home symbolize the 7 principles, which according to Gottman’s research, is what leads to happy and successful relationships. The couples who endorse these skills, he refers to as “The Masters” of relationships.

Inspiration Vs. Manipulation

The sound relationship house theory not only addresses the 7 key components to relationships success, it also encompasses the skills needed to thrive within each floor of the home. When couples come to therapy, it is not uncommon for one or both persons to point fingers or push blame on one another for their relationship issues. Yet the true key to success is developing a better self-awareness.  Gaining insight into your own role within the relationship will have a positive impact on the outcome of your relationship.

What does it mean to inspire one another within the context of the relationship? As couples learn the skills within the Sound Relationship House, they become inspired. I witness couples inspire one another when they use the skills to build love maps, foster fondness and admiration, and promote a positive perspective.  The success lies between understanding and implementing these skills. Furthermore, it dwells on your ability to inspire change as opposed to manipulate change.

To inspire your significant other, learn how to turn towards and identify your partners bids for connection. Consider taking responsibility for your part in an issue rather than react with defensiveness. Share and express your emotions rather than avoid and stonewall your partner. The onus for responding in loving ways and giving your partner the benefit of the doubt will be on you.  If you are to inspire change in your partner, you must look inward.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: You can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.”

When I first read the quote, two words came to mind – humility and mercy.  In a relationship, the ability to humble yourself to acknowledge your own faults or struggles is what permits the virtue of mercy and forgiveness to flourish.  These two components have often been the crux to what helps a couple create the change they are seeking.

I challenge you to think about how you want to inspire your partner and your relationship today. How can you to seek humility in identifying your own role in the direction your relationship has taken.  Furthermore, I encourage you to be merciful to both your partner and yourself.

If you are interested in learning more about how to build the skills that lead to relationship success, visit our YouTube page and watch our series on Relationship Remedies: Bringing Couples closer.  We also have our Bids for Connection Guide available as an additional tool in helping couples learn better skills for connecting