To allow influence, it is helpful to surrender the ego based “me" versus “you" position in favor of “us”, recognizing that when one person in a relationship “wins” or has all the power, both really lose. Research indicates this is most challenging for people who are uncomfortable sharing power for fear of being out of control. One extreme of disallowing influence is bullying, often with verbal or physical abuse. Gottman notes that men tend to have a more difficult time allowing influence as they have often been culturally scripted to be strong, to seek power and control. Those who grew up with fathers who bullied or were abusive have even more challenges in this arena. Motivation for change includes professional success with more effective leadership as well as more harmonious personal relationships.
“… men who allow their wives to influence them have happier marriages, and are less likely to divorce than men who resist their wives’ influence. Statistically speaking, when a man is not willing to share power with his partner, there is an 81% chance that his marriage will self-destruct.” (J. Gottman)
Suggestions for improving one’s ability to allow influence begin with taking an honest look at how you resolve conflict. This process is similar to the “fearless and searching moral inventory” as practiced in 12 Step Recovery, and requires that same willingness to look at things about yourself that you would rather not see. A review of this inventory is best done with another person to help with self awareness and acceptance. The next step is making a commitment to include accepting influence as part of your relationships, and then working with someone knowledgeable who supports your efforts to change how you respond to situations. The concept of "surrender to win” can be helpful in application of new tools, and the rewards of developing these skills include gaining power and respect rather than losing it. Increased happiness is a common side effect.