How many times have you and your partner had different opinions or perspectives on an issue? How often do these “differences” turn to gridlock in your relationship? Accepting influence is a key component to learning the art of compromise. Learn to accept influence and your relationship will experience the benefits this behavior promotes.
Accepting influence is simply your ability to take into account your partners ideas and opinions. Confirming even a part of your partner’s position that differs from your own is crucial for shared decision making. When you do this, it helps your partner feel supported, acknowledged, and significant. Accepting influence is more difficult for men than for women. Dr. Gottman, relationship expert, found that men who are in stable and happy marriages, tend to accept influence from their wives. Those that do not share power have more than an 80% chance their marriage will fail.
Gender Disparity in Accepting Influence
Two people make a relationship. Men are not solely to blame for relationship problems. So why the gender disparity? From a young age, when boys play games, their focus is on winning, not on the social aspect. When girls engage in game play, it is often driven by their emotions and a need to build relationships. Thus, Gottman states that women have a head start in obtaining emotional intelligence. In other words, women have a leg up in this area. Men have a more difficult time implementing this strategy. However, it is important for women to foster this skill as well.
A couple’s ability to withstand stress and respond to change is more likely if they have an equal balance of power. Such couples were successful because they had a firm foundation to compromise from. Whenever your drive for power prevents you from validating or empathizing with your partner…it builds a wall, not a bridge.
Strategies to Accepting Influence
Although the ability to accept influence does not come as easy to some, you can learn this behavior. The next time you and your partner have different opinions, try following these suggestions.
- Find at least something from their position that you can empathize, confirm, or agree with.
- Use this to incorporate possible solutions that will meet each of your needs… in at least some way.
- Find what is of value to your partners position. Become curious.
- Value holds purpose and power. Be sure to gain an understanding of the “why.”
- Pick your battles. If you find yourself focusing on being “right” “smarter” or on “winning,” you and your relationship will lose every time.
- Find something you can give up without completely giving in.
Putting the Skills into Practice
Take for example, a couple who are remodeling their basement. The husband envisions this as a “man cave,” complete with a bar and pool table. The wife envisions a serene and peaceful area with a “book nook” where she will get away from the noise to relax and read. Both have good reason for their wants and needs. Allowing influence involves taking another’s opinions into account. Further, it involves understanding the others perspective enough to want to relinquish something.
This understanding of one another will allow each of them to give up something for the other. Therefore, this couple will have the ability to compromise on something that will work for the two of them. Another person’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas become more important than yours. You see the value in what that person has to say, regardless of if you agree. You recognize the smile you see on your wife’s face, as she shares with you her idea for how to manage the situation with the flooding in the yard. You may not agree with her assessment of the situation, but you allow her to share her idea and you ask questions to understand it.
Humble Yourself for the Win
Sometimes we allow our need for attention or credit to get in the way of relating to others. In those moments when pride is evident, so too is your ego. When your ego gets in the way, you become egocentric, thinking only of yourself. This further becomes a barrier to the skill of accepting influence. You must learn how to humble yourself if you want to earn trust, respect, and thrive in your relationships overall.
Getting your way and winning, takes a back seat. Make your commitment to your partner stronger than your commitment to win. Once you learn how to accept influence, it opens the door to compromise. You win, your partner wins, which means your marriage wins. To learn more about healthy skills that build relationship success, visit our website and fill out the form for more information. You will receive a free Bids for Connection worksheet that can get you started on the right path today!