The Right Way to be in Control
Or, what control actually looks like
I was having a conversation with a coworker one evening about political issues. We talk about them from time to time because we have some slightly differing perspectives. On this occasion, we finished our discussion and she said, “I like talking to you about this stuff because I can learn from you. You talk about why you think like you do, and I appreciate that.”
This is what it means to be in control. You are not directing things or making them happen your way, rather you are showing others why you feel as you do and, as a result, why you believe they should join you.
True control is leadership.
More importantly, true control is not being in control of others, but being in control of yourself. You have every right to isolate yourself with other people who think as you do. But doing so is not a sign of thinking for yourself. It is not being in control of yourself.
The signs of being in control
The first sign of being in control is that you are willing to listen. Even when somebody is wrong, and believe me, there are indeed times when someone can be right or wrong, you hear them to their conclusion. You are willing to listen because at some level how they feel has its own justification and some level of validity. Because oftentimes, it is the endpoint that is wrong, and not necessarily how they got there.
Because here is the thing: sometimes how we come to think and feel like we do is the result of circumstances that are outside of our control. Being raised in a particular environment will cause you to think, to a lesser or greater extent, within the context of that environment. And we do not choose where we are born.
The second sign of being in control is that you save your judgment for the end.
I was raised in a conservative Christian environment. If I am telling you my story, and I begin to talk about how I was raised in a conservative Southern Baptist church, and you start to interject and tell me how you feel about that particular group, you are seeking to undermine something that was beyond my ability to change about myself. If you are in control of yourself, you save your judgment for the end. How did being raised that way impact how I think about something now? If I came to a different conclusion than my upbringing would suggest, then you may no longer need to judge at all, and we can move forward together.
A third sign of being in control is respect. You not only respect others, but others respect you. Your lack of judgment and condemnation leads people to value your opinion and engagement. They respect you and willingly follow your lead.
Which leads us to the next question: how do we gain, or regain, control? We will turn to this question next time.