3 Ways to Respond to a Perceived Threat with Power versus Force, Part 2
2. Respond with Compassion
Depersonalizing a perceived attack provides the space to see the bigger picture and respond with compassion. Recognizing that the attack is more about the other person than it is about you can give you insight into the other’s shortcomings and, quite frankly, his/her pain. Responding with compassion is powerful; responding with defensiveness will only keep the attack alive.
If the attack comes by email, pick up the phone, check in with the person, and ask, “How are you? What’s going on? I was surprised when I read your email, is everything okay? You are usually so thoughtful and patient. You must really be frustrated. Help me understand the disconnect?” Creating a compassionate space of understanding can help a person get clarity and find a better way to express him or herself.
Responding with compassion will not always be immediately received with like kindness, but it will be the best expression of you and your humanity. It is respectable, leader-like, and calls upon your best self. Moreover, in the end, compassion always wins over force. You might even receive an apology once the person gets unstuck emotionally from his or her own ego’s response.
David Hawkins wrote, “Power is associated with compassion and makes us feel positivity about ourselves. Force is associated with judgmentalism and tends to make us feel badly about ourselves.” Compassion makes others and ourselves feel better, and that’s a win-win.