In previous posts, I have touched on the concept of fear and how a person who is contending with fear can be prevented from realizing their full potential. I’d like to move the fear discussion further along and explore how it relates to our Connect versus Control purpose. Because our vision of “Connect” is strictly focused on relationships, the topic of fear seems to be a natural relationship feature to examine.
In virtually all of the instances where I have experienced a counter-productive or disappointing relationship experience, the element of control was typically omnipresent. Specifically, one or both of the individuals involved went into the encounter/relationship with the misperception that the primary goal was to ensure their idea of success was achieved – at all costs.
Winning the battle but losing the war comes to mind here.
There are, no doubt, myriad reasons as to why a person would approach a relationship in this fashion. Clearly, in the bigger picture, losing the war would not be the desired outcome…and yet, we all can admit to falling victim to this dilemma at one time or another. Worse, we can all undoubtedly bring to mind people who engage in relationships in this manner on a routine basis.
Historically, our culture attempted to draw a distinctive line between work and home, but I believe the lines that separate our business and personal lives are becoming increasingly blurred. And the manner in which we behave in one setting is often indicative of the behavior exercised in the other environment. For example, as “work from home” structures continue to proliferate and more importantly, as our culture becomes more comfortable with the reality that success in business, as has always been the case at home, is largely dependent upon relationships, the idea of “work-life balance” is quickly being redefined. So, losing wars in the workplace can often mean wars are being lost in our personal lives as well.
Engaging in and losing wars – whether at home, or at work – will simply not lead to long-term, sustained success.— , So if an abundance of the desire to “control” is at the root of poor relational experiences, what can be done about it? At the risk of oversimplifying the issue, I would suggest that one of the best methods to ensure a better relational outcome is to spend more time before-hand and think about what it is you desire from the experience. Most relationships at home and in the workplace are not “one and done” types of experiences. Therefore, chances are you will have to deal with the other person on a routine basis for months, years, even decades. Shouldn’t this reality be a primary pre-thought? And if it is, how attractive does winning battles and losing wars appear? Not so much.
I started this article by mentioning the topic of fear. That was intentional as I believe that the desire for control, or to exert control over another person in a relationship experience, is largely driven by fear. For many people, control provides comfort and clarity. Of course, for the person on the receiving end of the control hammer, the experience is often anything but comfortable and clear. What is produced might feel like a win to the “controller” when in reality what is left behind is dysfunction, broad-based brokenness and a reduction in perceived leadership ability associated with the controlling behavior.
Many years ago, I found myself in a relational experience with a person who strongly desired to control me, as well as the outcome of each engagement. For much of this relationship, my reaction was to exert my own controlling efforts. After all, I felt disrespected and that my views were not important. What developed was a very dysfunctional, stressful and unproductive experience for both of us. And it wasn’t until I decided to change my approach that the situation changed for the better. I eventually became comfortable with lifting the burden that comes with the need to win each battle. I quickly realized that even when the other person felt as though he had won, the reality was that we had both come out victorious and the potential to achieve the greater good was left intact, if not strengthened!
Connecting versus controlling involves risk, transparency and vulnerability – all of which are severely stunted when fear is allowed to reign supreme. Yet, when we envision the best, healthiest, most productive and successful long-term relationships, these three behaviors always form the foundation.
At Bristol, we passionately believe that above all else, relationships have and will continue to drive our success. The path toward perfection may not have an end-point; however, learning and growing together along the way bears the sweetest of fruits!
On behalf of the entire Bristol team around the world, we look forward to connecting with you in the not too distant future!