As Otto left for the home improvement store with measuring tape in hand, I cringed.
I thought his idea for how to anchor the banister to the wall leading to the top floor of our home would look like people who didn’t know what they were doing fixed it…
Which we were!
The two of us would certainly fall into the category of not having “repair” skills of any kind when it comes to fixing anything that breaks.
Even though we don’t really have the skills, we can each be stubborn about our ideas about the way to fix whatever needs to be repaired or replaced.
I usually think I’m right…
And Otto thinks he has a different and better idea.
As you can guess, our “fix-it” projects haven’t gone well in the time we’ve been together.
I remember years ago our project to drain the water from a water bed we no longer wanted and the uproar that we got into, along with hurt feelings, trying to get something simple like that done.
But lately we’ve landed in an easier, more loving and trusting way to move through these projects.
What happened that was different this time?
Since Otto was the one to take this project of re-anchoring the banister, I listened to how he wanted to fix it.
I really listened and tried to understand it without instantly making him wrong and stubbornly holding onto my way…
Which I’ve certainly done in the past!
I did explain that maybe there was another possibility and pointed out what I thought might be a problem if he did what he was thinking.
But I didn’t make him wrong, trusting that he would find a solution and he did.
He made several trips to various home improvement stores and finally found an anchor that he thought would work.
And it did.
The point was that he was open and hadn’t closed down emotionally to other possibilities.
Because he didn’t feel the need to prove he was “right,” he could see another way that was even better.
Because I wasn’t stubborn about hanging onto my ideas, I could stay open to him.
So often when we think the other person is “stubborn,” we are just as rigid in our thinking.
And when we call someone “stubborn” or even hold the thought that he or she is unreasonable…
We’re putting up walls and the other person becomes defensive, putting up walls as well.
So how do you communicate with someone you think is stubborn?
First, look at yourself and if you’re invested in being right.
(Chances are you are!)
Are you trying to change someone into who or what they don’t want to be?
When we think someone is stubborn, it’s usually because they aren’t thinking and acting the way we think they should.
When you can step out of the emotion of the judgment, you can see that the strategies you’ve been using to get your way haven’t worked and have only perpetuated the “dance” the two of you have been doing.
As you truly see this dynamic for what it is, you might become aware of a space where you two can meet and agree.
Then listen, really listen without all the judgment.
This doesn’t mean you agree but it does mean that you’re giving respect that you want for yourself.
Stubbornness can fade away when judgment falls away and a space opens for understanding.
In all of us, underneath all the noise of resistance and judgment is wisdom. If you just get quiet, you’ll hear it.