In the United States, we are entering the long build-up to the 2016 presidential election.   Many years ago, Donna spent three terms in the Oregon Legislature and was her party’s nominee for Secretary of State, so the political campaign season brings back memories of her time in partisan politics.

She recalls as a young women feeling the need to appear strong and decisive. To accomplish this, she developed her persuasive skills to convince other people of her point of view. Then someone posed to her a powerful and life-impacting question: “Do you want to connect with people or do you want to convince them you are right?”

This was a “choice point” moment for Donna. Pondering the question asked by a person supporting her as a Coach from a TED* perspective, she realized she wanted to connect more than convince, which eventually put her on a different professional path.

Politics today, unfortunately, is a great example of the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)™. Many citizens feel victimized by the state of the world and persecuted by politicians they don’t agree with. Consequently there is a longing for a new heroic leader that will be a Rescuer from the political drama and put things on the right path.

The DDT is everywhere—not just in politics. It’s in our movies, TV programs, advertising, religions, news, family relationships and much more. The DDT roles are universal human strategies to manage insecurities and are aligned with the fight, flight or freeze strategies (and we include a fourth one—the need to appease, which is aligned with the Rescuer role).

There is a paradox of the convincing attitude. The more we demand that others agree with us, the more we may be covering up our own insecurities.

The antidote to the DDT roles are found in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)™. Instead of feeling the need to convince and win, a Creator wants to connect deeply with others as Co-Creators. Disagreements are seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. This isn’t Pollyannaish stuff. The most admired leaders, whether political or in business, have an ability to connect through their own vulnerabilities and openness.

Here are a few tips to shift from “convincing” to “connecting:”

  • Notice how often you judge others. And not just their ideas, but also their dress, or lifestyle, or hairstyle, etc.
  • When you are in the convincing mode, ask yourself, “What am I trying to control?” This will help you understand your need to be right or control the situation.
  • When you notice your critical side (which is where the need to convince resides), give yourself a break and ask yourself, “What might be here for me to learn? What could there be that I don’t know that I don’t know?”

Great leaders, whether political or otherwise, have learned that disagreements are an opportunity to learn—not a time to dig in to convince or win.

Do you want to connect or convince? Which do you choose?