Trevor E. S. Smith | How to deal with dominance: A different perspective
"Mark is scared out of wits and can't think straight in meetings with her."
"I don't think the plan will work but I don't want to get my head bitten off, so I keep my mouth shut."
"He is too aggressive, so I steer clear of him."
In the decades that I have been a serious student and behavioural practitioner, dealing with dominance has been the most prevalent challenge. Over 90 per cent of participants in a webinar poll had issues dealing with dominant behaviour.
One amazing discovery from my experience is that most individuals who have issues with dominance seem to accept that there is no solution to the problem. They simply opt out or "make themselves small" until the storms blow over.
People batten down in the face of dominance and hope to come out relatively whole. They seem to treat those episodes in the way we view hurricanes. They are going to come, and we can't prevent them from occurring.
Of course, that mind-set strengthens the hands of those who rely on dominance as an operating philosophy.
Two analogies help us to understand and respond more appropriately to dominance.
Fortunately, hurricane warnings do not always result in us being hit with the force that we feared. After we brace ourselves for the worst, we are relieved when our fears are not realised.
Dealing with dominant personalities is somewhat like that. We expect a storm and it does not always come. (OK, there are exceptions). The truth is our mind-set causes us more disquiet than is necessary. Negative mindsets tend to invite the things we don't want. Positive outlooks tend to produce the results we desire.
Consequently, one source of relief in dealing with dominance is to approach encounters with the expectation that there will be a positive engagement. Confidence is a key feature of dominance. Demonstrating confidence has the power to change the nature of your interaction!
Lessons from dogs
You walk down an avenue. The dogs at the top bark. That sets off a chain reaction. All the dogs bark as you approach their gate. The message is: this property is protected... keep clear.
I shared insights from barking in the Certified Behavioural Coach live webinar last week that made a difference.
Dominance is a behavioural preference or style. It is a philosophy or approach to navigating life. It represents the winning strategy for the individual. This is the way to get the best results and achieve their goals.
Dogs have learned a secret. If their bark is sufficiently threatening, there will be no need to physically prevent the stranger from entering the property. If Bruno barks at the right intervals, he can easily discharge his responsibilities. Bruno might be forced to add bite occasionally for the overzealous intruder who insists on opening the gate.
Bruno's secret is what consciously or unconsciously underpins the use of dominance as a preferred behavioural style. If I send the message out that trifling with me could be dangerous, then I dissuade people from challenging my authority. Also, I command attention by adopting a dominant posture.
Like Bruno, I might actually have to bite one of the daring ones to maintain the effectiveness of my bark. However, biting is not high on my agenda. It consumes energy. Just do what I ask, and all will be well.
Rover is in the line up on the avenue. He barks even louder than the others. However, on the inside Rover is hoping that you do not test his gate. He is scared and frightened at the thought of having to defend his barking.
Many dominant personalities are more bark than bite. As Trudy pointed out, they are like the playground bully who submits when confronted.
Warning: A scared Rover might bite out of desperation when cornered.
KEYS TO SUCCESS WITH DOMINANCE
Contribute to success and ensure that it is recognised. Being accepted as a significant contributor to the achievement of objectives, earns you respect and a voice that needs to be heard.
Explode the myth that Dominant personalities want to be surrounded by "Yes men".
The reality is that the smart ones want to be challenged. Metal sharpens metal. Consequently, make a commitment to share your thoughts whenever you have something that is worthy of consideration ... even if your ideas are opposed to those being put forward by the dominant individual.
Be socially intelligent
Choose time, place and situations for your input carefully. Being confident is not the same as challenging authority in a disrespectful manner.
Avoid being lukewarm
Stand for something! For your own development, avoid simply going through the motions without any commitment for or against anything. That stifles your spirit and makes you hollow inside. Awake from your mental slumber!
Learn more about the turn-key Coach-Mentor Certification programme here:
- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop engaged, high-performing teams. Hire smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling coaches in the ICF/SHRM-Accredited Certified Behavioural Coach programme. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org