Do you like it when someone tries to control you? Or seems to scold, blame, manipulate, or shame you? Doubtful. But… have you ever paid attention to see if you do these to others?
Controlling, scolding, blaming, shaming, and similar actions such as criticizing, complaining, being cynical or sarcastic, and even teasing can cause conflict and damage in our relationships at home, at work, and in the world at large. The tone of voice, the words you use, and the energy you bring to every interaction are very important things to pay attention to if you want to succeed in your relationship with others. We know this, and yet, we still lapse into unwanted behavior.
The way to shift this is:
**Invite, don’t incite.
**Inspire, don’t require.
**Enroll, don’t control.
The distinguishing component between the two sides is: whose world are you in? To invite, inspire, and enroll, you must get into the other person’s world. You must, with grace, generosity, and respect, understand their perspective to the best of your ability (whether you agree with it or not) so you can keep in mind what is important to them and include that in your interaction.
Inciting, requiring (aka demanding), and controlling are self-centered and often cause the very thing we are trying to avoid or change. They usually stem from internal insecurities, unconscious fears, and/or the inability to ask for what we need or want in a gentle and inviting-inspiring-enrolling way. Sometimes these are familial or cultural habits we picked up as children. Sometimes they are survival mechanisms that helped us get through our early years. No matter how or when we adopted these behaviors, they will not serve us as adults.
It is important to become very clear about both sides of these equations *and* to be aware that what might seem innocuous to one person may feel offensive to another. Therefore, observing how others respond to what you are saying will tell you how you are coming across.
Things to consider:
Inciting shows up in many forms: defensiveness, rigidity, passive/aggressive/passive-aggressiveness, etc. As mentioned above, it includes acts like scolding, criticizing, and blaming. Anything likely to hurt someone’s feelings and/or provoke conflict belongs in this category. Remember, it may not seem provoking to you, but if it comes across that way to the other person, you lose.
Requiring and controlling are similar in that they are an attempt to overpower another. This includes demanding, commanding, “should-ing,” and expecting the other person to conform to your values, desires, and preferences. These can lead to resistance and defensiveness from the other party. A lot of people live that way, including couples and employer-employee combinations. This “dance” does not make for a nurturing and thriving environment.
- Your words count. Notice the difference between “attacking a problem” versus “approaching a problem.” Can you see that one could be inciting whereas the other is inviting? This may seem like overkill, but depending on the word and depending on the situation or audience, it can make a big difference.
- Your feelings convey. Frustration, disappointment, and upset tend to come out in blaming language and tone. Which would you respond to best/most easily: “You did ______ to me! Stop Now!” -or- “I feel disappointed when you ________. Would you please do ________ instead?”
- Your power compels. Two ways to express power: Fear or Freedom. Fear needs to control. Freedom has the authority to manage, cooperate, and negotiate. Fear causes incite-require-control. Authority (freedom) is able to invite-inspire-enroll.
You could call this emotional intelligence. You could also call it spiritual intelligence because it is ultimately about using your life energy, your power, appropriately and effectively.
Incite-require-control is the easy way out because it’s a knee-jerk, me-focused reaction. Unfortunately, it often leaves a mess in its wake.
Invite-inspire-enroll involves the expression of spiritual principles such as leadership, humility, harmony, diplomacy, and compassion. It requires self-awareness and self-certainty as well, because you cannot get into someone else’s world if you are uninformed about your own. Generosity and respect are necessary, too. Again, you cannot have these for others if you do not have them for yourself.
Relationships are our teachers, and if you are like me, they offer lots of opportunities to practice. The good news is that it gets easier to stay in the invite-inspire-enroll space. The funny news is that the better you get at it and the more committed you are to staying there, the more painful it is when you do slip. Use that pain to get back on track.
We talk about making the world a better place, and we talk about having the holiday spirit, but are we walking our talk? Invite-inspire-enroll is a formula for enhancing the beauty in our world, but we must live it in order to make it happen.