THE ABCs OF POWER: THE LETTER “C”
On this blog I often discuss mature ways to handle situations in which we feel that we are being insulted (see for example, RESPONDING TO CRITICISM: FOUR LEVELS OF MATURITY).
Many people after reading several of these posts find that situations that previously gave them difficulty can now be handled with great confidence. As a result, they find that people have begun to treat them with an increased level of respect.
Although this is a major step in the right direction, some find that although they can apply the skills discussed in this blog with people whom they perceive as having either equal or less power over them, when they face people whom they perceive as having more power, they suddenly lose their nerve.
They end up remaining silent on the outside and quivering on the inside. Or they get defensive and find themselves overreacting to some innocent comment. What can be done to help people to deal better with these types of situations?
When people learn the ABCs of power, they come to realize that they have far more power than they ever thought they had. And once they come to realize this, they enter into many more types of situations in which they previously felt powerless with a level of confidence that commands respect.
It is for this reason that we have begun to construct a list of sources of power. The list is arranged in alphabetical order. So far we have introduced the source of power that begins with the letter “A” (see the ABCs OF POWER: THE LETTER “A”) and the source of power that begins with the letter “B” (see the ABCs OF POWER: THE LETTER “B”). Today, we turn our attention to the letter “C.”
C is for Coalition
In this Peanuts comic, the simplest example of forming a coalition is illustrated. Sally believes she can better achieve her goal of doing well in school if she can get Charlie Brown to help her. She requests Charlie’s assistance in her own sweet style and within a matter of moments he has agreed.
It is oftentimes amazing that just by asking people for help on a project how often some people will agree.
If you are having difficulty coming up with a way to achieve one of your desires, consider asking yourself, “Is there a way I can form a coalition with one or more people so that I can achieve the desire?”
Some Examples of Utilizing the “Coalition” Source of Power
At first, he feels he is helpless to do anything about this. He becomes alienated at life, and when he has insults thrown at him about this, he begins to imagine getting revenge. But then he begins to learn how coalitions can increase his power.
Because Charlie Brown likes to play baseball, he decides to invite people he knows to play on his team. Before long, he gets the neighborhood kids together to participate on a team he manages. As a result, Charlie Brown becomes less lonely and he gets to play more baseball.
When you form a coalition, you may still get criticized. If you learn the skills taught on this blog to handle criticism, your coalition may lead to more positives than negatives.
At least with a coalition you get to decide if the criticism that you have to deal with is worth being part of the group or not. Having some choice can often be better then having none at all.
In our example, although Charlie Brown’s managerial skills are often criticized, there is no one who seems to want to replace him as the manager. The kids have been showing up and participating in a shared activity, and he is thus less lonely than he would be if he were sitting home all alone. In the end, Charlie Brown feels his use of the source of power known as “coalitions” was a great benefit to him.
Consider another example:
In my novel, A Hero Grows in Brooklyn, Steve Marino is one of the main characters. As he is growing up, Steve observes how his father uses his fists to try to bully people into doing what he wants. Eventually, Steve’s dad ends up in prison.
At one point, a friend asks Steve whom he respects most in this world:
“My Uncle Ricky.”
“I guess it’s because instead of trying to beat you up to get you to do something, he has a way of doing fun things with you and forming bonds like that. He used to take me to Yankee games and hit fly balls to me, and man, whenever he asked me to do something, I’d do it in an instant—not because I was afraid of him, but because I loved him.
“My Uncle Ricky has a group of friends who call themselves the Brooklyn Barons. He goes bowling with them and they play softball also. Doing these things together somehow made a bond between these guys, and if any one of them needs help all they need to do is ask and the rest of the guys are there in a split second. These guys aren’t congressmen or people well connected, just regular Joes. But, when Uncle Ricky let out word I needed a job on the docks after school, they went and figured out how to arrange it. And whenever Uncle Ricky needs help loading some wood on his truck, he has all the help he can use. They do it because they want to. I like that. My Uncle Ricky, he’s just a good guy.”
There are several ways to go about forming a coalition. One of the easiest ways is to join a group that already exists. We discussed earlier how advancing skills can increase your power. Many groups currently exist for people who have an interest in one particular set of skills. If a particular sport is the skill you have been developing, you can call the local “Y” and ask if there are teams forming for the sport you are interested in.
Coed volleyball teams are a great way to meet people. Oftentimes, after a game someone begins to ask if any of the players want to get some pizza or have a drink. In this way people begin to bond with one another.
The local “Art Council” oftentimes has information about groups that have been formed around a particular art. I know people who, over the years, have treasured their quilting club or pottery classes.
Joining a volunteer group is a particularly wise way to increase your power. Members of the community tend to increase their respect for people who help out in this way. Moreover, people who join such groups are oftentimes, by nature, individuals who like to help others.
When you join a group, it’s probably not a great idea to immediately begin to ask for members to help you out. Take a few weeks to be helpful to others and to give the natural process of forming bonds time to develop. After a month or two, when you do need some assistance, make your request in a manner consistent with encouraging caring. For example, you might say something like, “I’m having a problem with my landlord. I’m hoping that some of you might be willing for me to describe it and then let me know if you have any ideas about what I can do about it. I know all of you are really busy and if you don’t have the time for this, I’ll understand.” Then you would wait to see if you get one or more volunteers. For those who don’t volunteer, it is crucial to remain supportive.
On the internet, there are a host of groups that have been formed with the purpose of achieving a common goal. Meetup.com and websites like it include national groups and tons of local ones as well. You type in your area code and a list of the meet-up groups in your area come up. You can also search by activity.
Sometimes the groups in your area do not deal with the exact thing you are interested in. You can still meet with one that comes closest, take some time to get to know the people, and then propose setting up another group that addresses more directly your specific interest.
Belonging to a group fulfills a basic need of people for social interaction. If you learn to utilize this basic need, you will find that in addition to increasing your own personal power, great rewards come from helping others to increase their personal power.
Remember that power is the skill to achieve your desires. When you learn to use the source of power known as “coalitions,” you will find that you will become far better at achieving many of your desires. When you come to recognize this, you will find that your confidence has increased. Then, if someone attempts to insult you, you will feel less threatened. This will allow you to keep your cool and to respond in a wise manner.
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.