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It's about connecting, not control.

What if, rather than ask,

"How can I get this person to do what I want them to do," we asked,

"How can I connect with this person?"

Getting people [including our spouse or kids] to comply with our rigid expectations will inevitably lead to controlling them. 

Control always leads to shame. 

Because the one doing the controlling [expecting compliance] assumes it's their right to do so.  It sets the two parties on unequal footing.  The receiving person's dignity is seen as dispensable.

Are expectations a good thing?  Yes.  To live without them is to live without values and to assume our own dignity is indispensable. 

But demanding compliance at the cost of another person's heart isn't acceptable.  God himself is gracious with latitude:  He allows, even welcomes, self-will - the capacity to make uncoerced choices without the threat of disappointing him.

It's helpful to ask:  "Does the person's heart matter more to me than their behavior?"


The controlling dynamic centers around "IF...THEN..."

"If you do this, I'll be happy with you.  If you don't meet my expectations, I'll be disappointed with you."

"If you comply with my expectations, I will reward you.  If not, you'll suffer the consequences."

THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL.  Instead, God says, "I will bless you on your worst day."


A better way

Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and other leadership books, offers an alternative:

1.  "Lead with questions, not answers."

2.  "Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion."

3.  "Conduct autopsies, without blame."


I would add a couple others:

  • "Give feedback about failed expectations as information, not condemnation."  [remove the emotional sting]

  • "Put the heart of the other person first.  Worry about behavior later."


It's about connecting, not compliance.

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Reader Comments (4)

I find that those that try and control others is because they themselves live a life of control and manipulation. In my own journey I have discovered that when we seek to control less and stay present and enjoy the moment we open our lives to receiving so much more. This openness also causes others to want to connect with us as they will sense that you are not trying to take something from them but instead add to their lives....hope that makes sense..is a bit late here!



November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Hey Pablo. Definitely makes sense. It's what your wonderful book is all about. Glad it won't be too long before Holding On Loosely comes out!

November 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

I agree with you. People don't want to feel their lives are being controlled or dictated by others. It's better if a person follows what you want not because you are in command but because he/she personally likes to do so. It's a win-win scenario for both parties. To make other people follow you, you must first gain respect.

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertyrone burrier

So true, Tyrone. We gain respect only when we put the other's heart first. True respect and authority is never based upon title or position. Great points.

November 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim Robbins

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