The Subtleties of Power

By Greg Baer M.D.

March 12, 2012

Glenn was annoyed when he said, "Nobody listens to me."

"Really?" I asked. "Give me an example."

"Yesterday I wanted to go out to eat with Misty (his wife), instead of eating dinner at home."

"Did you tell her you wanted to go out?"

He paused. "Well, yes."

"Your pause would lead me to believe that you might have been less than crystal clear in expressing your desires. Exactly what did you say to Misty--the precise words."

"I asked her if she wanted to go out."

"Ah, so you didn't really make a clear request that she go out with you. Instead you asked her what she wanted to do."

"But I wouldn't have asked her about going out if I didn't want to go."

"I understand that, but you didn't directly ask for what you wanted. You required Misty to figure out what you wanted. Why did you not ask more clearly for what you wanted?"

"I'm not sure."

"Because if you're vague, you avoid being directly rejected, which you hate. That is the primary reason people don't clearly ask for what they want. You were simply afraid, and then when Misty didn't respond in the way you wished, you were offended. You put yourself in a place where you could accuse her of being insensitive or uncaring. You enjoyed the power of being offended. By accusing her of not listening, you also hope to pressure her to listen in the future."

"I never saw it like that."

"You need to have the courage to clearly state what you want. Real power comes from controlling your own choices, not from controlling or criticizing the choices of others."

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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