I'll never forget when my best friend, already an old married dude, gave me the one piece of advice I NEEDED to know on the eve of my wedding..."Sex starts in the morning..."
This had been a hard fought truth. His spouse was like a finely wound watch or a sports car. She needed to be finessed and tended to. You couldn’t just power your way into her good graces. It had to be earned.
Some guys don’t get this. They think that they can just push harder, brush on through, and power forward to get their way. We’ve all seen dudes like this. Maybe we’ve all been like it from time to time ourselves. But here’s the truth—you will not keep nice things or nice people in your life if you keep on taking that brutish, beef cake, burly approach to life. You won’t. You may get what you want—but there's a difference between getting what you want, and getting people to LIKE giving you what you want.
If you invest in a relationship, you're more likely to get what you want consistently.
Do you want to go out with your buddies more often?
Do you want to have more sex?
Do you want others to respond when you ask them for things?
Well--I'm about to show you how to do just that.
Before I do--a quick note--some folks have been quick to say, "Isn't this MANIPULATION?!?!!" The simple answer (for the simple minded) is yes.
However, it is almost unimaginable that we would NOT be doing this. We are constantly asking for things, developing plans, persuading others, or evoking a feeling to get what we want... the difference is that some people are highly effective at it--while others are not.
What do I mean by this?
I'll never forget when a person I was working with said, "People always treat me like I'm helpless...And I hate it..." My response was that I wasn't convinced they did hate it. Why would they? Others gave them what they wanted. In fact their being treated as helpless was only an affect of actually BEING helpless. They had become HIGHLY effective in securing assistance, getting taken care of, and being helped out.
What the person didn't like was the ICKY feeling they got about always feeling like a victim of circumstance, or being perceived as dependent. They got what they wanted--but they noticed people did it begrudgingly. Often times they’d get feedback that they were lazy, or eventually people would check out of their relationship because they took too much care. Bottom line, the person was getting what they wanted—but it didn’t last.
In other words there might be a more effective way to not only get what they needed in that moment, but also walk away with an improved relationship.
The method I'm about to show you remedies the relationship destructive ways we try and get results, by reinforcing it with compassion, and loving-kindness--as well as actually caring about the person who is helping.
This isn't a skill you use on everyone. When I'm needing something from the gas station attendant I might not be mindful of building a solid relationship that will stand the test of time. But with my wife...HECK YES...I'm trying to use this skill constantly...
So men and women, here's today's PRO-TIP, step by step:
1) Be Gentle: Use your softer side...be NICE...No harsh tones or aggressive posturing... Try using a soothing voice and some tenderness. It goes a long way. Yeah that’s right, you’re totally phony pro-bro voice that you’ve dropped by two octaves to impress the dudes at work won’t work in this moment. Raise a bit, give it some inflection. Move the eye brows for god’s sake. Smile even—couldn’t hurt.
2) Act Interested: I think its important to point out that I said, ACT interested... YOU MAY NOT BE! It's ok. Not everything catches our attention. Not everything grabs us. But that doesn't mean we can't be fully present with our attention and engagement. Don't check your cell phone while your spouse is talking to you. Don't status update in the middle of their story. That's showing them you don't care. And no--don't take the non-emergency phone call in the middle of dinner...it says that others are more important than the people right in front of you. Act like they matter if you want to build the relationship.
3) Validate their emotions: Validation doesn't mean that you agree with a person, it just means that you acknowledge them. If someone launches into a rant, you can say, "Wow...you're really passionate about this..." BAM! They've been heard. If someone is totally tearing up and crying uncontrollably, you might venture, "It seems like you're upset..." Again, what can you empathize with?!?! There's always something. Sometimes I deal with some really tough cookies who might say, "I want to go postal on the whole world..." Now, I probably wouldn't just bob my head and say: "YES!!!" Instead, I can validate that they're having a hard time, their back is against the wall, and they feel angry beyond belief. It's that simple....
4) Be Cool: This is such a bad-ass thing. Just by being cool about something, easy, and unflappable, you can take down the energy in a room. Think of someone erupting in anger and aggression... You have a few options...but usually responding in kind doesn't lead to any place good. Lowering your voice, having an easy manner, and playing it real cool literally drops the intensity. I do this ALL THE TIME--and so can you!
There it is. In short a step by step method to get people to like giving you want you want. Just by being gentle, interested, letting them know you're getting their world, and being cool about things rather than boiling hot.
BUT AM I JUST FAKING IT???
I can think of another dude who thought that anything short of “the brutal truth” and “naked honesty” was lying or negative manipulation. Let’s just say he also wondered why he didn’t have close relationships and his spouse often expressed that they don’t enjoy him. What was going on? Same story—he didn’t understand that in order to most consistently experience the positives of relationship, we need to put in the effort. We can’t always just—get what we want.
I suppose there’s the fear of being a socio-path. When we break down what that means in experience, you might say that you don’t want to be calculated or over-analyzing your decisions just to get what you want. I get it, and this is noble. But actually this isn’t that at all. This is about knowing that it’s not simply about the WHAT, it’s also about the HOW. And that how we interact with others has an impact, on them, and on us. This is the opposite of being sociopathic. You’re actually caring about the person enough to take their experience into consideration.
I can hear the objection now—but aren’t you really just taking them into consideration because you want something?
But what you want isn’t only MORE sex, MORE time with friends, etc…you want MORE of this relationship.
Look, I remember in my first marriage I had an idea of “unconditional love.” By that I thought that they needed to love me regardless of how shitty I treated them or whether or not I poured into the relationship. Here’s the reality—it’s not true. Unconditional love may be possible, but not this side of heaven. Turns out bad behavior merits bad results. She happily kicked my ass to the curb. And good for her! She knew that she was worth more.
We treat people how we want to be treated. I learned the hard way that in order to keep or build relationships, and to keep getting the things you desire, you have to practice kindness, connection, and caring. There’s really no two ways about it.
So. Here’s my challenge to y’all. Try this.
Be Gentle. Act Interested. Validate their emotions. Be Cool.
oh, and you’re welcome.