Participants on my workshops regularly ask me for some magic bullet technique or model that will some how transform a distressed relationship into a healthy one. Usually the request is phrased at the beginning of a workshop along the lines of "What can I say or do to make this person do X instead of Y?"
Here are some of the responses I have given over the years depending on the participant’s intention for wanting this outcome.
There is no magic technique, process, model or hypnotic language pattern.
No technique, model or process will magically transform the person into a mindless zombie who will blindly do your bidding. There are numerous unethical marketers advertising their techniques on the Internet with outlandish claims about putting people under your control. The fact is everyone has free will and makes choices as to how they interact in a relationship. Even the stage hypnosis acts people often use as proof of the ability to "mind control" others, relies on the principle of cooperation between hypnotist and performer.
Relationships are co-created.
It is important to recognise that relationships require the input of both parties. One person in a "relationship" with another, without the other person knowing about it, wanting it or consenting to it is called "stalking". So unless you are stalking someone, there is a good chance that all parties are co-creating the relationship for better or for worse. Therefore, it is not up to one party to solve the problems in the relationship, it requires the willingness of both parties to resolve the issues and the effort of both parties to move beyond the present conditions.
Refrain from manipulating for personal gain. Collaborate for mutual gain.
Approaching any relationship with the intention to "make" other parties do something against their will, will lead you down the path of manipulating others for self interest and personal gain. This approach might get you results in the short term, but in the long term people will wise up to your self serving intentions and stop complying with your requests. No matter how frustrating you find their behaviour, remember that this behaviour is a strategy they are using to meet some higher order need. In negotiation terminology, this higher order need is referred to as their interest. If you truly wish to build a collaborative relationship, then seek to understand what the other person achieves from engaging in that behaviour and find ways to help them get their legitimate needs met.
You cannot make someone think/feel/do anything they don't want to think/feel/do.
The fact is we all have free will. If you are attempting to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect for each other's beliefs, values and worldview, then you need to understand that you can't actually "make" others do anything. It is common for people to displace accountability for their thoughts, feelings and behaviours on to others by blaming the other person for "making" them think, feel or do something. Examples of this displacement may sound like "You make me so mad!", "See what you made me do?", "You made me think I was worthless!" As plausible as it may seem at the time we say or think these things, no one has actually made us have these responses. The truth is we are simply responding / reacting to a stimulus that we have a negative perception of and we are 100% accountable for our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This truth also applies to those around us and as such, we are not responsible for their thoughts, feelings and behaviours regardless of how much they may wish to blame us. The liberating aspect of adopting this belief is that you own your responses and so does the other person. Both parties are always empowered to make changes in their life and don’t require the permission or intervention of others to make better choices in how they approach the relationship.
Be flexible in your expectations and behaviours.
Often the desire to "make" someone do something else; stems from the frustration of having run out of strategies for dealing with the other person's behaviour(s). When a person possesses numerous strategies for dealing with a broad range of people and their behaviours, they develop behavioural flexibility.
Learning and applying a broad range of techniques, models, processes etc. increases your flexibility in dealing with a variety of situations. The more techniques and processes you know how to apply, the better you will be at adapting to each situation. Seeking to find a "one size fits all magic bullet technique" is a sure fire way of limiting your behavioural flexibility in a world populated by an amazing diversity of personalities and behaviours.
So to summarise, if there was only one way of resolving an issue in relationships, that would be the only technique or process taught by facilitators around the world. Evidently that is not the case. So the next time you're on a workshop, my advice is that you open your eyes, your ears and your mind to new ways of doing things. You never know, you might inadvertently discover a range of possible solutions to the problems you were grappling with in your relationship.