Helping Clients Have Power: Blog Post 3 of 3

This is my third post on what I am referring to as “power”. This is power to help us all chart life within our own framework.  Free, generally, from the judgment, expectation, criticisms or agenda of others.  I also am not talking about narrow-minded power to the point of excluding completely others’ views or suggestions or causing purposeful ill treatment of others.

I also realize “power” might not always be the appropriate word.   Possibly the word “fearless” fits more accurately.  My earlier Post 2 of 3 (2/5/15) includes one of my favorite comments attributed to Gandhi: “Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.”

Nonetheless, the specific point of this blog post is to suggest to readers that they consider not using “you” responses in opposition to another person’s judgment, expectations, criticisms or agenda.  A few examples of what not to say are: ‘You are being so unreasonable.’;  ‘You are being unfair.’;  ‘Don’t you understand?’, ‘You are making me angry.’, etc.   I see absolutely no upside to this “you” approach.   It can more often, in my view, signal weakness.

By contrast, more direct, powerful responses such as ‘I simply don’t agree with you.’; or ‘I have already stated my position.  I am not going to keep repeating it.’;  or ‘I comprehend what you are saying.  But, I do not agree.’;  or ‘Alright, you have stated your opinion.’, etc. convey that you are not being controlled emotionally or substantively by the comments of others.  This is the kind of power that, in my view, results in much greater satisfaction in life. including effectively dealing with the inevitability of conflict and disagreements.

Letting the other person know they have no power to get under your skin, and that you are able at all times to stand resolute, confident, calm, and relaxed in the heat of conflict, give you the more comfortable hand of power and satisfaction in life.

Coincidentally with this post, I recently found some of my old travel postcards from my college-days first trip to Paris in 1976.  I was amused to read the following portion of a card I sent to my parents at that time.  I had no idea then I would become a lawyer;  but, this Paris anecdote, although simple, almost immaterial, is where I could have fretted or fumed about this sandwich clerk trying to overcharge me, but rather my friend and I responded in a manner that hopefully let the guy know, with a little purposeful jab, we also had power over him.   Here is the excerpt from my 1976 postcard:

Today as we first got to the Latin Quarter of Paris, I went to a small shop to buy a sandwich. The sandwich consisted of a yeast bun, very dry, and insides of hot sauce, meat (unknown), potatoes, carrots, green and black olives. As I paid for the sandwich I gave the cashier 50 francs (a single bill).  He took the 50 franc bill and said “Bye” with a wave. I said, “Non”, for the sandwich cost 3 francs. He gave me the change with a smile. Shortly thereafter, Frank [my traveling buddy] came into the shop to buy a sandwich. Frank asked me how much was the cost. I told him it was 3 francs but to only give the man 2 francs, which he did. Immediately the man smiled and said, “One franc”. Frank paid the remainder, we all laughed a little, and left.



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