John Gottman's concept of "accepting influence" refers to the ability of each partner in a relationship to value and consider the opinions, perspectives, and needs of their partner. It involves being open to being influenced by the other person's ideas and being willing to compromise or make joint decisions.
In a strong and thriving relationship, both partners have influence and input. Accepting influence means recognizing the value and validity of the partner's thoughts, desires, and preferences. It requires being willing to listen, understand, and seriously consider their perspective, even if it differs from one's own.
Accepting influence is a crucial aspect of effective communication and conflict management within a relationship. It allows both partners to feel heard, respected, and valued. When one partner accepts the influence of the other, it creates a sense of partnership and collaboration, promoting a more balanced power dynamic.
By accepting influence, couples can make joint decisions and find compromises that honour both partners' needs and preferences. It fosters a sense of teamwork and cooperation, leading to increased trust, satisfaction, and intimacy within the relationship.
On the other hand, when one or both partners struggle with accepting influence, it can lead to power struggles, resentment, and an imbalance in decision-making. Refusing to accept influence often stems from a desire to maintain control, fear of vulnerability, or a lack of respect for the partner's autonomy and perspective. This can create tension and ongoing conflicts within the relationship.
In Gottman therapy, couples are encouraged to practice accepting influence by listening to their partners valid subjective reality, seeking to understand their viewpoint, and showing a willingness to compromise and find mutually agreeable solutions. It involves letting go of the need to always be "right" and recognising that healthy relationships thrive on collaboration and shared decision-making.
Overall, accepting influence is an essential component of a successful and fulfilling relationship. It requires an open mind, empathy, and a genuine desire to prioritise the needs and perspectives of one's partner, ultimately fostering a stronger and more harmonious bond.