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Welcome! Listed below is our Bridge Builder's Tip of the Day excerpted from Dr. Frisch's, Psy.D. book, Making Molehills Out of Mountains. Enjoy!

Bridge Builder's Tip

Express your needs rather than defend your position.

Do you see the distinction between expressing your needs and defending your position? A position is a stance you take about something in dispute with your partner. Your needs are matters that hold importance to the well-being of you and your relationship.

Think about this for a moment. Is it safer for you to defend your position or express your needs? Which leaves you feeling more vulnerable--“I need you to be there for me” or “Here are my ideas about how and why you’re never there for me”?

Defending your position is an accusation that you must prove correct. Expressing your needs is an invitation extended to your partner to join you. Defending your position is a pronouncement that your partner has failed you. Expressing your needs is a declaration of the regard that you  hold for your partner.

While you furiously defend your position, any attempt to address the underlying relationship issues will have an inevitable slant to it. Focusing on your position requires that you be right and your partner be wrong. Successfully defending your position hinges on your ability to debate your partner rather than understand your partner.

Defending your position freezes you in a battle of wits where the only skills that matter are your ability to explain and justify. Can you see the inevitable harm defending your position inflicts upon your relationship? Championing your position requires you to dismiss your partner.

Can you see the paradox of attempting to resolve conflict by championing a cause? You will inevitably create more conflict than you resolve.

On the other hand, making molehills out of mountains is the end result of two people honoring each other’s needs, considering the best interests of the relationship. What are the best interests of your relationship? Do these examples make sense to you? Connection. Honor. Respect. Growth. Honesty. Openness. Interdependence.

Beginning to consider the interests of your partner rather than defending your position can create an important shift between you and your partner. Selfishness will transform into sharing. Competitiveness will transform into cooperation. Antagonism will transform into mutual respect. Self-centeredness will transform into consensus building. 

Here’s the ultimate benefit of the shift I’m proposing. You cannot possibly begin to understand your partner while you’re defending your position. Quite simply, as long as you defend your position, you’ll perpetuate a log jam of

ill-will. By expressing your needs and honoring the needs of your partner, you’ll begin the process of tearing down the walls that have developed in your relationships.




Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency as well as  its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

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