Why controlling your partner won’t work…but ENROLLING them will…

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Why controlling your partner won’t work…but ENROLLING them will…

Here’s a R.A.D.I.C.A.L.™ solution for re-creating an effective partnership

Have you ever had a situation where both you and your partner were at wit’s end when it comes to working together effectively? Have you ever wished your partner would just do what you wanted…the way that you wanted it…and when you wanted it? If so, I understand your frustration and I want to offer a solution that gives you an infinitely better chance at resolving your differences and creating peace. Interested?

Here’s how this works

I work with a married couple who came to me with a real problem. She has a very high need for certainty so she makes a lot of rules to get her needs met. The problem is…her husband doesn’t want to be controlled and he is a master at blocking her attempts. This  leads to her creating all new rules…and him devising all new ways to do his own thing. It’s an endless cycle and incredibly frustrating for both of them frankly. What keeps them together is that they really do love and care for one another. They just have some really UNWORKABLE strategies because it’s a classic example of the old saying “when your only tool is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.” In order to shift the dynamic, I needed to teach them a new awareness and a new skill that would break the impasse for good. Now before I share the tool, we have to understand the need that created the situation and sabotaged them both every step of the way.

Controlling comes from the need for certainty

While the need for certainty is one of the most important out of the 6 needs that make up Human Motivational Psychology, it is also one of the ones that carries with it a great deal of pain. That’s because life, by its very nature, is uncertain. Trying to control people, events or situations is often a huge waste of time…and absolutely counter-productive. That’s because as my example clearly demonstrates…there are far too many variables and frankly, other people don’t like to be controlled…but they can be ENROLLED. (By the way, it’s next to impossible to control people who exhibit oppositional defiant tendencies…not to mention exhausting.)

Enrolling over controlling

Rather than trying to control a partner with rules, demands and orders that break rapport, destroy trust and erode relationships, I recommend seeking to enroll a person instead. What that means is you are seeking to have them willingly sign up for a course of action that you have offered, rather than one you’ve attempted to force them into against their will. The goal is to have them opt in by actively CHOOSING a solution that actually benefits both of you instead of having a one-sided course of action forced upon them. Now in order to give your relationship such a radical shift in the right direction, I’ve created a tool utilizing this simple acronym that will help you remember how to shift things.

R.A.D.I.C.A.L.™ new possibilities

That’s right. The tool I want to share is called The R.A.D.I.C.A.L. Shift™. If you simply follow this outline, you’ll be well on your way to building understanding, creating empathy and bridging the gaps that divide you. The first step is acknowledging the problem and owning your role in it because your unexpected vulnerability will usually get a reciprocal response due to the fact that the other party can “save face.” Then it’s simply a matter of following these simple guidelines:

REQUEST their help and support

Issuing orders doesn’t work. In fact, it’s the act of demanding compliance or trying to control another person that created the breakdown and damaged the trust in the first place. So in order to rebuild and regain trust, making a simple request is a powerful change that empowers you both and recalibrates the power balance between you.

ASK for specifically what you’d like

Vulnerability, kindness and humility in the form of a request are very compelling when it comes to redesigning the future together. As you begin to craft an acceptable win/win, keep in mind that there may be some negotiation in arriving at your mutually agreeable solution. Oftentimes, I use the frame of “If you had it all your way…” to elicit what both parties want and need. From there, I have a foundation for negotiation.

DEFINE the benefit of what it would give you

The key distinction in this step is that it’s important to clearly articulate how it would make you feel. Men, especially, are wired to want to please women if at all possible. It only becomes a problem when they start to believe they can’t please you. The key distinction here is that people often don’t necessarily want what they ask for in a negotiation. What they really want is THE FEELING IT WOULD GIVE THEM.

INTRODUCE a win/win solution that works for both

Successful people know how to structure deals so that everyone benefits. When you operate from a win/lose dynamic, everyone eventually loses and the relationship suffers. In his best-selling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey made the idea of “Win/Win or no deal” his 4th habit because it’s so important.

CATCH them doing it right and compliment them

Most people who tend to get stuck in deadlocks are mis-matchers who focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. if you want to shift your relationships, practice flipping that script and looking for – not to mention – POINTING OUT what’s great! Everyone wants to be seen, recognized & appreciated. It’s a powerful game-changer when it comes to enrolling people.


If you want to negotiate successfully, it’s important to condition the behavior you want to see: that way, you’ll see more of it. The bottom line is that any time you reward or focus on the positive traits of another, you’re very likely to see the behavior repeated. By even mentioning the slightest concession, it gets you one step closer to the next one…and the next one…or even an agreement!

LET THEM WIN the game

Once you’ve followed all the previous steps, the odds are very good that you’ll arrive at an agreement that works. From there, it’s important to celebrate and honor the agreement not just as a form of closure…it’s also setting the tone and building an expectation for all future deals. (Again…this is called conditioning the behavior you want to see).

Now that you have all the advanced skills you need to negotiate effectively, try this on for size and let me know how it works. I’d love to hear your thoughts in an email or in the comments below. If you have any questions or could use even more help, please feel free to reach out for a private chat; my gift to you…

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