My supervisor and I were chatting the other day, and I was lamenting about clients who always seem to bring someone into session. She nodded and said, “yep, they need a wingman.”I hadn’t really thought about it in the broader perspective (I was just getting annoyed), but she was right. Some people in conflict need a wingman. And, it got me thinking about whether this is a good–or bad–thing.
When in conflict, it’s normal to want someone there to support you, but it’s also important to recognize when your “wingman” is a crutch. Let’s say you’re in the midst of conflict, and the other party is asking that you compromise or change your behavior. How likely is this to happen if your “wingman” is right there reinforcing the idea that you’re doing things right and don’t need to change?
On the other hand, having support is key to feeling accepted and validated. Without support, we wouldn’t have the confidence to embrace change at all.
Like so many things I’ve come across in the field of conflict resolution, the idea of having a “wingman” when in conflict seems to involve a lot of gray area. So, the next time I see that “wingman” in my therapy office or at a mediation, I’ll be sure to keep an open mind.