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Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights


Enlist Them in Your Bind™

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 9:55 PM
Enlist Them in Your Bind™

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When we want to tell someone something that is not so easy to tell - that might even be somewhat confrontational or “loaded" in nature - and we find ourselves in conflict, and equivocating, over how to tell them, there is a technique that may well be of some use!

A parent may have to set a limit for a child who he/she knows is not going to like it.  A husband, wife or partner may need to explain some behavior to his/her spouse.  An employee may wish for his/her boss to change a particular policy or assignment that is irksome.

People come to me all the time with such dilemmas.  And though there is, of course, no one answer for all situations, quite often, the advice to “enlist them in your bind” or, in other words, ask them what  they  would do in your shoes - has served many quite well.

This strategy allows the person being confronted, who might otherwise become defensive, to stay (or, rather, feel more) in control and be the one to come up with the idea or co-write the solution!  It also serves to inspire empathy vs. immediate negativity and venom. 

If the answer the 'person being confronted' gives "the enlister" is somehow still not incorporating the view the enlister was hoping to hear, and this certainly may sometimes happen, then the enlistee may need to become more oriented to the idea that a dilemma even exists.  For example, a parent asking a child how he or she would handle consequences for breaking curfew, could, on the one hand, hear back that the child would be rougher on him or herself than the parent would ever be.  Or, on the other hand, a parent may find that the child just doesn’t see why ANY parent would set a curfew.  In this latter case, there is still probably a greater chance for dialogue, philosophy-sharing, negotiation, evolving mindsets and/or educating than if the situation starts out contentious and devolves into everyone digging in their heels out of urgent frustration!

This technique of enlisting another in one’s bind requires patience and openness.  If there is a shortage of these, then other help may be needed before this strategy is likely to pay off.

Categories: Adages to Live By, Adages to Live By for Therapists, Career, Communication Skills, Parenting, Relationship Tools

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Reply David P
3:33 PM on November 4, 2013 
Thanks. Good advice. Ive used it on my daughter and what you say is true.
Reply David Brandt
3:34 PM on November 4, 2013 
David P says...
Thanks. Good advice. Ive used it on my daughter and what you say is true.

Thanks for feedback!