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 by Dr Henry Cloud

I recently finished reading Dr Henry Cloud’s latest book “The Power of The Other”. This book was an excellent read. As a pastor who works with small groups and helping people connect in relationships this book is especially helpful in understanding the “psychology” behind relational connection. This book does well to build upon learnings and understandings from The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection. (see my review of “The Relational Soul” here)

Often in our lives we unintentionally repeat patterns of relating to others around us based upon patterns of connection that we have  learned often on a subconscious level. Likewise the right relationships in our lives has the power to impact us greatly both positively and negatively based on how “healthy” these relationships are for us. If you have ever wondered how and why some people are able to surpass limits. I think at some level most us wonder how we become better, how we become more. Dr Henry Cloud does well to guide the reader to understanding how it happens and how you can do so as well.

Here are my two primary “take-aways” from this book. The first is shorter and the second builds upon it.

The three elements that form the triangle of well-being work together to build, drive, create, and regulate our functioning and performance. What are the three? They are our brain/ body (the physical), our relational connections, and our minds, which regulate the energy and information needed to live and perform. (Kindle Location 321)

Our relationships help write the “code” of whom we become and are becoming. Relationships have power, for good and for bad. Good and bad “code,” and good and bad “energy.” They affect all three parts of the triangle of well-being: the physical, the interpersonal, and the psychological. (Kindle Location 345)

  1. How significantly relational connections with others impact us in areas even outside of interpersonal skills but correlates to physical and psychological as well. Relationships write the code of whom we become and who we are becoming. I think we undervalue the role relationships play in our lives.
  2. The “Four Corners of Connection” what a “corner four” relationship looks like. Here are the four corners of connection:
    • Disconnected

    • No Connection 

    • The Bad Connection 

    • The Pseudo-Good Connection 

    • True Connection

From these “four corners” of connection we are to engage in relationships that give us energy not take it away.

Relationship, the connection between people, not only enhances our mental functioning, but actually works to impart it, to provide it. Capacity is built through energy and intelligence. I love the definition of energy that Siegel uses , borrowing a phrase from physicists. It is “the capacity to do something.”

People give energy, and they take it away. Know the difference and plan accordingly.

The right kind of relationship will bring us to new levels of challenge and growth.

Frequently, we don’t have a clue about the abilities and assets we possess. They have never been pointed out to us. That’s what the right kind of Corner Four relationship does: it spots a hidden asset you possess and shows you how to access it.

So-called self-improvement—the process of getting better— is really a relational enterprise, not a “self” enterprise.

Overall there are six steps to evaluating and transitioning into corner four relationships:

  1. First of all, we’ve established that, whether we acknowledge it or not, other people have power in one’s life that greatly influences one’s performance.
  2. Second, that power can be positive or negative in its influence.
  3. Third, we can’t get to the next level without opening ourselves up to the positive power that others bring. We must be an “open system.”
  4. Fourth, in order to open up and receive, we must be vulnerable and willing to go into a place of need .
  5. Fifth, there are certain components that Corner Four relationships provide— fuel, self-control, responsibility and ownership, a realistic positivity about failure, stretches and pushes , steps, structure, and process.
  6. This kind of relationship helps us trust others and build trust with others. We not only are to be recipients of this type of relationship but extending it to others as well.

As a leader, a spouse, a colleague, and a parent, take time to ask yourself: Have I shown the people I want to have a Corner Four relationship with that I truly am listening, that I understand them? And, before you invest your trust in someone else, ask yourself if you feel that they are listening and truly understand where you’re coming from. I will rarely invest in or with someone who can’t listen.

If you’re a leader, do your people know that you’re for them? Your kids? Spouse? I presume that you are, but if you want trust to flourish, you have to make sure that they know it as well.