Reflection Questions for "Saying 'No' across Power Differences"

These reflection questions are referenced in the Fearless Heart blog post "Saying 'No' across Power Differences", of July 6, 2013.

They were also the questions for participants in the teleseminar about that blog post held on June 11, 2013. A recording of that or any other Fearless Heart teleseminar can be ordered here; we request $10 per recording.

The Questions:

1. If you are a manager, or otherwise in some position of power, please answer the following questions. If not, skip to Q2. (note: although parents are in a position of power relative to children, the dynamics of “no” are somewhat different with children).

a. How often do you hear a person with less power than you say “no” to you? If infrequently, what do you imagine is the reason for that?

b. How often do you hear a “yes” you don’t fully trust? What do you do when that happens?

c. What do you currently do, and what else would you like to do, to increase ease in saying “no” to you for those with less power than you?

2. The following set of questions can be used for any time someone asks you to do something and you hear a demand. For this coming session, please pick someone in a position of power relative to you as you reflect on these questions.

Choice: Facing “Demands”
i. Purpose:
To increase our ability to access our true sense of choice beyond the submission/rebellion dance, and respond authentically to another’s request even when we hear a demand.
ii. Reminders:
-- A. Our need for autonomy is met through an internal process of conscious choice; it is not something others can meet for us. Others can contribute by meeting our need for respect for our autonomy.
-- B. When we hear a demand, we may interpret it as lack of respect for our autonomy and we may react to this interpretation.
-- C. When we react to a perceived demand by either saying “yes” out of fear or by saying “no” to protect our sense of autonomy, we are constraining the range of choices available to us. We may be operating within the “submission/rebellion” paradigm instead of living from our authentic autonomy and being grounded in interdependence.
-- D. No matter how the other person expresses their request, ultimately the choice to hear it as a demand or as a request resides within us.

iii. Think of a situation in which you perceive someone as making a demand of you. Write down what the person says, and what you are hearing (said or unsaid, imagined or real).

iv. What are your feelings and needs in the moment of hearing this? If the need that arises is autonomy, what other needs are alive in you? (e.g. acceptance, full internal choice, self-connection)

v. What is your best guess as to the feelings and needs of the other person? Take a moment to connect with those needs.

vi. What feelings and needs become alive in you as you stretch to open your heart to this person?

vii. Can you imagine needs that will be met by doing what this person wants other than acceptance, love, ease, harmony, etc?

viii. Can you imagine needs that will be met by not doing what this person wants other than freedom, self-respect, comfort, autonomy, etc?

ix. Take a moment to connect with all the needs you discovered in yourself until you reach self-connection. What feelings and needs are most alive in you now?

x. Consider again the original statement from the other person. Are you still hearing a demand? If so, repeat the above steps until you are genuinely aware of the freedom of choice within you.

xi. What would you like to do in relation to the request you heard from this person? What needs are leading you to this choice? Can you imagine making the other choice?

xii. How are you feeling in this moment after engaging in this activity? What needs are met or not met in doing it?