Whole Life Magazine

December / January 2015

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Joss Jaffe Dub Mantra Sangha New Release | www.jossjaffe.com Featuring musical guests including Mykal Rose (Black Uhuru) Shimshai • Jai Uttal • Dave Stringer • Wah! • Donna De Lory Miss an issue? Download back issues at www.wholelifetimes.com P ower can be a tricky thing in relationships. When we give up the idea of power, or choose instead to share it by each being "response-able," arguments are transformed into healthy dialogue. When you explain yourself fi rst, makes excuses or assign blame without owning your part, you ensure the other will continue to make the case against you. Eventually things will start to escalate, maybe quite quickly, and you soon reach a stuck point. But by immediately taking responsibility for your part in a confl ict, you buy yourself credibility and the space to talk about what you want the other to understand about your perspective. When you own what's true about your behavior—take respon- sibility for it—it opens the ears of whomever might be upset with you. For example, one person says with irritation in her voice, "You said you would take the trash out this morning. It's overfl owing!" His back goes up, defenses kick in… it's easy to get plugged in to her irritation and offer reasons or excuses why it didn't hap- pen. But that comes off a little like, "The dog ate my homework," because seriously, it takes about one min- ute to take out the trash. And it's not very likely she'll answer, "Oh, all right then. It's okay." But imagine her reaction if his fi rst words in responding to her were: "That's right, I didn't do what I said I would. I can understand why you're upset. Sorry, I'll get it right now." The word "power" denotes strength and a sense of not be- ing easily wounded. The transformation of personal or business arguments takes place when we understand what real power looks or sounds like. Does someone criticizing his partner in a loud, angry voice look powerful, or is he betraying his own weakness? Do you know people who minimize, deny or justify their behavior when you comment on what they've done? Do they look secure or insecure as they provide excuses for their behaviors and choices? A comment is very different from a blaming criticism—and likely to meet a better outcome—but in either case, ego, pride and insecurity can get in the way of a level response. Adrenaline then makes it diffi cult to take responsibility or have empathy for the disappointed other. We get so concerned about refl exively explaining our point of view that the argument keeps going and going. Defensiveness broadcasts a lack of power. It can also convey a bit of guilt. Shakespeare knew it when he wrote, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." This is, of course, applicable to men as well. The power response sounds like this: • Own what you said or did fi rst. • Acknowledge the other's thoughts or feelings. • Say what you're going to do about it. Most couples indulge in a lot of unnecessary arguing—unnecessary be- cause if either partner used this simple method there would more likely be a healthy dialogue. Arguments would get cut off at the pass. —Marc Sadoff, MSW, BCD is a psycho- therapy & relationship coach in private practice. www.RealHope.com city of angels By Marc Sadoff WHAT TO SAY BACK Real power is being fi rst to say, "My fault" 14 wholelifetimes.com

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