Meekness is Not Weakness
Real Power does not need to exert itself for its own gain, or to prove itself right or powerful. Influence for the good of others is Real Power. Holding back on the use of power for the benefit of others is a tricky balance. There is real need for wisdom to understand when (and when not) to exert power. You may be right, but do you have to be right, right now, or can it wait until a more appropriate time and place (a time and place where your “right” might better be received by the hearer)?
Inspired by the Rotary Club of Herat, I joined our local Rotary Club, which has this International 4 Way Test:
This can also be a good test for the use of power/influence in any situation. The use of Power to build rather than to tear down requires a few other character qualities to moderate its use for the benefit of others:
Awareness – it is so easy to be unaware of the circumstances another person is going through that may be coloring their attitude or behavior. Taking a moment to recognize the situation more deeply than our first reaction will give us better judgement in the use of power/influence. Ask yourself the Four Way Test questions before acting.
Listening – Asking others questions before giving answers can be very powerful in letting others know you care about them more than you care about your ideas or solutions. Active listening sets the stage for correct thinking and subsequent actions.
Empathy – We love empathy when it is shown toward us. Empathy also makes influence more influential to the hearer. “Seeking to understand rather than to be understood” is the foundation for great decisions and helpful information that is more readily received by the hearers.
Power under control for the benefit of others has sometimes been characterized as “meekness”. Meekness is not weakness.
Author: Gary Williams