If, like me, you sometimes say to your partner, in a self-assured-accusatory tone, “I’m always the one who…”, you know that it leads nowhere. Right?
Technically, we are saying (more or less) “I want you to engage with me in this conversation as an equal partner”, but energetically we are saying “I’m better than you,” and thereby sabotaging any possibility of our partner attempting to engage with us.
There was a time when I was pushing for equal partnership and reciprocity with my husband. My need was genuine, and it was met. I was clear – not angry. We sat down and both agreed on what we respectively needed to change in order to create a true reciprocal relationship.
But today, when I am stressed and say to my partner: “I’m always the one who blah blah blah”, it has nothing to do with equal partnership and reciprocity.
On the contrary, it has to do with “releasing my anxiety on the other one when I feel powerless”. In the Learning as Leadership lingo, it is called a diversion.
For example, this year, my husband and I have to make a decision about whether or not to go back to France in July, as we usually do. For various reasons, it is hard for us to think, talk and decide about it together.
Instead of proposing to my trusted husband that we sit down and have a conversation, beginning by asking him about his thoughts, listening attentively and then suggesting we explore our options, here is what I say:
“- We have to talk about this summer!”. Which would be okay if there wasn’t already an impatience in my voice that is immediately followed by: “- And why am I always the one initiating the conversation about going back to France? Which is usually extended to: “- Why am I always initiating ALL the meaningful conversations in our household”?!
Thankfully, I’m tired of being “the one always derailing good communication!”
And I’m committed to creating the space for others to be the equal partners they are longing to be in conversation with me.
Personal Reflection: At work or at home, do you create enough space for others to be your equal partners?