Can you relate to either party in this image? Chances are you can relate to both, depending on which relationship in your life that you're referring to! Whether you are the big guy who dominates the landscape, or the little guy who's smart and nimble, both hold power to influence, and both can be respected for their unique qualities. This picture is a beautiful representation of what you can achieve in professional and social relationships, when you are willing to bring your character assets to the table and work together for a win-win.
Do you have to be the big guy? Do you feel threatened if you perceive yourself to be the little guy? Can you see that the little guy in this picture holds power and respect too? So much of our failure to manage healthy relationships is tied up in our fight for power and dominance. I call this the power/threat cycle. It works - usually - in one or two ways for each of us. The first: we are focused on our own power and importance, and we behave in a dominant manner so that others know we are "important". We may achieve this by speaking, taking up positions and behaving to ensure that others see our importance and feel our dominance (sometimes in the most subtle of ways). In this way we ensure that we hold the balance of power. The second: we are focused on our own insecurities (a perceived loss of power and importance) and so constantly feel threatened by anyone that is confident or self assured, thus to compensate we either; act powerful to circumvent this cycle OR act threatened, taking away our own power and ripping ourselves off of the respect that we deserve.
The problem with BOTH of these approaches is that, as a mentality, they assume that power and dominance directly correlate to importance. As a human race we all long to be important, any many people/companies/conglomerates achieve this through power. Using power to establish importance is a successful strategy. But it’s not a win-win. In the thousands (it's a guess, but a pretty educated one) of clients I've worked with, I have seen this power/threat cycle mindset rearing its ugly head in 99.99% of relational issues. There is a different mindset that we can take, and its approach always gains better, more sustainable outcomes. It's called focusing on respect. Respect doesn't discriminate by power and perceived importance. Respect recognises that you can't compare apples and oranges, and that each can be equally appreciated for its own unique traits and properties.
In my quest to understand the human character, I have learned that our desire for power is real, but that desire for respect is much healthier and sustainable. The power struggle will always result in winners and losers, but respect is something that can be shared around much more equally. I have learned to tame my inner power monger! and trained myself to focus much more on respecting people equally, for the different traits and assets they possess. That means I can have equally respectful relationships with people of all different shapes and sizes, without this nagging issue of the power/threat cycle that continually plagues the human race and causes us to act in ways contradictory to even our own interests. If you can consciously shift your focus from perceiving importance linked with power to perceiving importance linked with respect, you will journey a long way in self respect, happy relationships and your ability to lead and influence the people around you.
If you are interested in a respect mentality, you may be interested in the vlog below in which I detail some specific strategies you can implement to improve your life and social relationships. Being able to manage social relationships starts with you – understanding yourself and your own motivations – and permeates out to managing/responding to all of your interpersonal interactions. Social skills is the 5th pillar of Emotional Intelligence.
Kristy is the founder of Wellbalance. She is inspired to motivate leaders and workplaces toward proactive, effective and productive communication with their people, to achieve positive outcomes for all. Kristy enjoys long walks on the beach and holding hands at sunset (just joking - actually not really!) Kristy thrives on seeing relationships reach their full potential, and celebrates when people come to understand their true value - to love their flaws, accept their perceived failings and grow beyond these. She believes that the entire human race are healthier and happier when they CONNECT - with their people, GROW - in their self awareness and ability to engage with others, and LIVE - life to their full potential.