The Power of Calm Persistence

Here’s a simple but very useful idea that I learned from my MA in Dispute Resolution that I would like to share. It has to do with the concept of power in interpersonal relationships. If you ever find yourself in a low-power position (and eventually, we all do) one of the things you can do is rely on the power of calm persistence.

Its a simple idea, really. Its very rare that you can get someone to change as a result of intense, angry confrontation. Instead, change is much more likely to come from calm, careful analysis that directs attention at the problem. If you’re in a Low-Power position you cannot afford to blow up with a person who has more power than you do. One way to gain more power in such a relationship is to be patient and avoid giving up out of frustration. If you do this well enough you can sometimes gain “nuisance power” over the High-Power person and get them to agree with you so that you’ll just go away.

Some other tips include:

  • Stay pleasant and calm
  • Follow the High-Power person’s rules even if you think they are ridiculous
  • The point out that you have followed their rules and expect results
  • Write down a simple, clear summary about what you want
  • Ask for their help in solving the problem
  • Tell them all the steps you took to try and get a response from them
  • Avoid taking your frustration out on Low-Power individuals in the organization
  • Use humor – it always helps – as long as its not at someone else’s expense

It is rare that we ever get what we want by blowing up over it.  Try using the power of calm persistence and dogged determination to get what you want.


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