Ignore interpersonal power dynamics at your peril
It's important to understand interpersonal dynamics because of the impact it can make on life in the home.
In my skilled helper and coaching work I make myself aware of interpersonal dynamics because it is so important. It acts in the background and if you are not aware of it, you can come to false conclusions about the people you are guiding.
Interpersonal dynamics is any engagement between one to one, one to many or many to many. It involves the different levels of power between people and how people seek to increase their power. These power dynamics affect interpersonal relationships.
It's important to understand the basic concept of interpersonal power dynamics before we move on into how it plays out in coaching caregivers and other forms of skilled helping.
I came across a situation in coaching where I realised that more was happening than my client was letting on. However, it soon became clear that there was a power struggle forming between another caregiver in the home and my client. This resulted in an open attack on me because the other caregiver felt a loss of power and became threatened.
Before things became a dark triad, I disengaged myself from the coaching. It was important to exit as soon as the interpersonal power dynamics are outside my scope as a skilled helper. This messy business is best handled by someone who specialises in interpersonal dynamics.
Still, it's important to have what novelist Lobsang Rampa called the "third eye" (said to be located in the centre of your head) so that you can be aware of what is happening in a family coaching setting on a meta level.
This power dynamic has played out in my own life in recent times. As a caregiver of a loved one with a mental illness I was aware of this power dynamic between my adult child and my partner of ten years. There was a continual battle between them and while I did things to minimise the conflict, I was powerless to change the underlying structure between them.
The oscillation between the two of them grew into high levels of conflict. Eventually things became too much and my partner left my home. It was a gut wrenching experience and I am still living with the pain of loss of what we had created over a period of ten years.
It is not easy to be a caregiver of a loved one with a mental illness or any other health condition for that matter. This is why I have been inspired to help other caregivers through coaching. Knowing what to do in certain situations on a practical level can empower caregivers.
But ultimately caregivers need to learn to look after themselves and get the necessary support to take care of their loved ones.
It's important to understand interpersonal dynamics because of the impact it can make on life in the home. To a certain extent it can be managed but in extreme cases as I have mentioned it would be wise to bring in an expert or make changes that transform the interpersonal dynamics in a holistic way.