By Tim Stevens
The following is an excerpted transcript of a conflict resolution session between Power Man (Victor Alvarez) and Iron Fist (Daniel Rand) with Tim Stevens, facilitating.
TIM STEVENS (looking over his notes): All right. From what I have here, Joy Meachum, the woman who helps run the Rand Foundation, urged you both to come in for this session today.
POWER MAN: She said if we didn’t, she’d quit.
And then Mister Super Hero here got all scared and made nice. So here we are. ‘Cause dude doesn’t know how to talk to women.
TS: I see. Well, Victor—
PM: You can just call me Vic.
TS: Sure. Vic, then. I try to avoid attempts to mock other people in session, especially during conflict resolution sessions like this. So, while I appreciate you telling me what happened, next time, please do so without making light of Daniel. Now, Daniel, would you like to tell me your perspective on why you are here?
IRON FIST: It is, more or less, what Vic said. Joy said that she knew of you through a friend and that this would do our partnership some good. I talked to some people that were aware of you and they seemed to agree you do good work. And yes, she did threaten to quit.
TS: Okay. But what I am more interested in is what led her to feel the need to make that threat? Can either of you explain that?
PM: I am guessing she saw how annoying he is, bossing me around all the time. Got sick of him acting like I’m his...grasshopper or whatever that bald guy was called.
TS: So you feel like Daniel here is too…strict in the way he teaches you?
PM: Too strict, yeah. And way too slow, too. It’s always,
Begins to imitate Iron Fist’s voice and mannerisms.
“Well, Vic, the world is a complicated place,” or “It is important to do the right thing, Vic. But we must know all the facts before we can know what the right thing is.”
Drops the imitation.
It’s like that. All day. Every day. I agreed to be his partner, not the guy he keeps around so he has someone to tell what to do.
IF: I own an entire company. I can boss people around all the time if I want to, Vic. Believe me, corporate life is a lot easier than this.
TS: Maybe, maybe. But do you hear what Vic is saying, Daniel? His expectation, to be treated like an equal, isn’t being met. How do you feel about that?
IF: I am sorry if I gave him the impression that that was the way it was going to—
TS: Tell him, not me.
IF (adjusting his seat towards Vic): I am sorry if I made you think we’d be partners out of the gate. I’m your Mas—teacher, your sensei. For now, at least. Partners is something for the future, maybe. When you earn it.
TS: Does that clarify things for you, Vic?
PM: Yeah. It clarifies to me that he’s still hung up on oppressing me.
TS: I’m not sure that’s wha—
PM: That’s exactly what he’s saying! I have to “earn” the right to be equal? I’m more powerful than he is and invulnerable! My costume looks better! I’m part of the neighborhood, not just some…tourist! If you ask me, the only one who has to prove equality on this is him.
TS: I see. I can tell this upsets you a lot. Daniel, what do you think about what Vic is saying?
IF: I think he’s arrogant. He’s right: He’s more powerful. He’s invulnerable. But he’s also been wearing the gear for a very short period of time. He takes unnecessary risks. He makes snap judgments based on little or no evidence. He sees everything as extremes and either can’t or won’t acknowledge the world isn’t really like that.
PM: Why bother with me then, dude? If I suck so much?
IF: That’s not what I—
TS: No, it isn’t. But it is pretty clear that’s what Vic is hearing. So I think it’s a good idea if you do tell him why you think he’s worth your attention. What his strengths are, that kind of thing.
PM (turning away slightly): This’ll be good.
IF: Well…obviously…there’s the power. He’s got so many gifts, you can’t just ignore that. And he really does care. I don’t always agree with the choices he makes because of that, but it is clear he is doing things for the right reasons. I don’t know…he’s smart. He enjoys life and that’s rare for a lot of costumed heroes. Plus, he reminds me of my responsibilities…of not just hurting some people to save some others, but of bringing peace and knowledge to others.
TS: Excellent. How’d that make you feel, Vic?
PM: Fine…I guess. Weird. A little uncomfortable. I was worried he was going to start crying or something.
TS: Okay, okay. Remember what I said about mocking others here, especially when people are being authentic and open. Now let me ask you, Vic, if Daniel is such a problem for you, why are you still working with him?
PM: Because he’d probably steal my power or something if I didn’t?
PM: Oh come on, man. Do I have to do this?
TS: I think it would be helpful, yes.
PM: Fine. He’s…he’s kind of cool, alright? He’s, like, an Avenger. He’s beat up all sorts of bad guys. And I know I cracked on him about women before, but you should see some of the ladies in his photo album. It’s insane! He’s been doing this for a long time so I figure he must be doing something right, right? Can’t hurt to learn that, I guess.
TS: Great. Thank you, Vic. I hope you heard that, Daniel, and took it to heart, too. It seems to me that you two really do like and respect each other. But also that you, Daniel, might have a hard time giving positive feedback at the same time as constructive criticism. Would you say that’s fair?
IF shrugs slightly and looks off in the distance.
TS: And you, Vic, you might push past the boundaries, even though you know where they are?
PM: I plead the fifth.
TS: Fine. Okay. I can see neither of you are quite there yet, but I think both of you feel the truth of what I’ve pointed out here. I think it’d be helpful for you two to come in some more, but in the meantime, just remember that you do like and respect each other. That it is okay for people in a partnership, especially a new one like this, to disagree from time to time and that sometimes those disagreements can be heated. But, and here’s the important part, all that…passion come from a real desire to make this work and to see each other do well.
PM: That sounds…so hokey.
IF smirks a little. PM notices.
PM: Come on. You know it does.
TS: Be that as it may, when you feel the need to disagree with each other, find a way to remind each other first of the qualities you like and respect. I think you’ll find it will make the arguments a lot less ugly, make Joy a lot happier, and make your team-ups a lot more functional.
To see if any of what was talked about here got through, check out the file marked POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #2, prepared by Doctors Fred Van Lente and Wellington Alves and available for review on February 23.
Psy D Candidate Tim Stevens, MA is a Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute and a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant.