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Power Of The Other–Who’s In Your Corner?

Talking Frogs

Do you ever meet someone and instantly feel that this is the father/brother/uncle/friend you’ve always wished you had? Henry Cloud is that guy.

I didn’t even actually meet him–I just heard him speak at a conference–and am now a fan for life. He exudes kindness and common sense.

Luckily for the rest of the world, he packages this wisdom so you can carry it around in your pocket, or at least reference it frequently on your bookshelf. 

The Power Of The Other

His latest book, The Power of the Other: The Startling Effect Other People Have on You, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond–and What to Do About It, is quite a mouthful of excellent food for thought. His best book, IMHO, is still Boundaries, but Other will also change your life for the better.

Cloud’s colorful anecdotes illustrate how we can push beyond our limits to be better and achieve more than we or anyone else thought possible, but we can’t do it alone. Sure, we put in the effort, but without motivation and guidance to keep us on track, it’s easy to wander astray.

He discusses the Four Corners of Connection and maps out how to get where you want to go.

Corner 1: Disconnected

When you’re in Corner 1, you’re not emotionally connected to others. You might be quiet and shy, or you might be an extrovert who socializes constantly but always keep relationships superficial and meaningless. Maybe you’re insecure and afraid of showing anyone your weaknesses. (I certainly remember being the new kid at work and wanting to fly under the radar.) Whatever the reason, people around you don’t feel valued, and so they don’t value you in return.

Trust and goodwill fail to develop, and often toxicity takes their place. You make decisions in isolation and don’t benefit from the wisdom or ideas of others. Most people have probably been in your situation, but unless you talk to them, you continue to feel alone.

What to do? Let trusted people in your inner circle. Get to know them, and just as importantly, let them get to know you. None of us is Superwoman. Take your cape off and be real. Let these real relationships help you through hard times and make good times even better.

Corner 2: Bad Connection

Sometimes life gets so lonely that even a bad relationship seems better than none at all, yet being around this person makes you feel as though something’s wrong with you and you’ll never be good enough to earn their approval no matter how hard you try. And oh, how we all have tried.

But trying is an exercise in futility. The problem is with the other person and his/her expectations, not with you. We’re all human, and none of us is perfect. Staying in Corner 2 zaps your energy and breeds anxiety, guilt, fear, and shame. No one thrives in this environment.

What to do? Give up. Success with this relationship is not possible. It will be hard, but distance yourself and give yourself room to find others who are more supportive.

Corner 3: Pseudo-Good Connection

Resist the temptation to flee from Corner 2 directly into the trap of Corner 3, where you’ll be showered with positivity, which feels amazing. People here tell you that you’re smart, talented, and beautiful and that you can do no wrong. Who wouldn’t want that?

But life isn’t always amazing, and ignoring the bad stuff doesn’t make it go away.

Surrounding yourself with people who always say, “Yes!” and encourage you to indulge in affairs, food, drugs, and shopping sprees can distract you from your troubles, but the longer you proceed down this shallow path the more damage you’ll do. Pretty colors and flashing lights are fun for now, but they don’t last forever.

What to do? Find someone who has your best interest at heart and can tell you the truth kindly and gently. Read on.

Corner 4: True Connection

Corner 4 relationships are real connections. They’re two-way streets with seat belts and air bags. Both parties in these relationships want the best for each other, so it’s safe to share true thoughts, feelings, fears, and joys.

These people always have your back, and you have theirs.

They want to see you succeed and won’t sugar-coat the truth you need to hear. They’re in this for the long haul, so they care about your future. They’re truly in your corner through good times and bad. Their friendship and approval is not based on whether you made a mistake today–it’s based on their love and respect for you as a person.

Get Connected

Do you have Corner 4 people in your life? Do they stand beside you with understanding and empathy yet also hold you accountable for your actions? Do you know that they care about you and not just what they can get from you?

And do you fill the same role for them?

Take a few minutes today for a relationship inventory. Is it time to declutter? Or is it time to go shopping?

What are your best Corner 4 relationship stories? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments 8

  1. Just added this to my “To Read” list. I’m always interested in relationships and their effects on happiness and success. I find it to be an under-explored area of research.

    Thanks for the recommendation and analysis!

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  2. We definitely have a couple who are in our Corner 4 and we are the same for them. It is so fun to find people like that! I guess if I pull my science out – it is a mutualisitc relationship where both benefit. I’ve been in relationships in the other corners and took way to long to declutter those! We’ll need to shop some to as we move forward and spend more time in our other home each year too. We don’t have “our peeps” there yet!

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      Best of luck, Vicki. Finding new Corner 4 peeps seems to get more difficult as we get older and everyone gets busier. With online communication it’s easier to hide the ‘real’ you and only put the good stuff out for the world to see. It makes us cherish those truly wonderful relationships even more.
      Somehow, though, I think you’ll have people flocking to your corner in your new community- you’re an awesome, genuine person and anyone would be lucky to be your friend!

  3. Our Corner 4 people are mostly family. I have Boundaries but want to check out The Power of the Other. I believe I first learned of Dr Cloud from Dave Ramsey’s show. Thanks for writing abut his new book. I’ll look for it in the library.

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      Mrs. Groovy, family populates most of my Corner 4 too. They’re there through thick and thin and we know each other well enough to know that none of us is perfect, so we can be more honest with each other. I’m forever grateful for each of them.

      We also learned of Dr. Cloud through Dave Ramsey’s show and saw him at the Smart Conference. He’s such a likeable guy and it seems like he can see right inside my head– so many of our experiences seem unique though they’re really universal.

  4. This is great, Julie! Thanks so much for sharing. I read Boundaries about two years ago and loved it, so I do think I’ll pick this one up too.

    I can look back at my life and identify people in each of the “corners” and am grateful to have several in Corner 4 at this point. Not only do I have my husband and parents, but a small group of friends that have my back, but aren’t afraid to hold me accountable. Thankfully, I’m at a good point where I don’t feel like I need to declutter or go shopping in this area!

    “But life isn’t always amazing, and ignoring the bad stuff doesn’t make it go away.” I LOVE this statement and wish more people could recognize this.

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