This is part 4 of my 4 part series on understanding others and ourselves in the context of our relationships with them utilizing the Basic Relationship Rule (BRR).
The BRR states:
Everyone always does the best they can in any situation given their psychological state, their model of the world and their skill sets.
Applying the BRR:
- facilitates your understanding others and yourself and
- is the key to building (or improving) your relationships
The three elements in the BRR which comprise the basis for understanding another’s behavior are:
- Their psychological state
- Their Model (or perception) of the situation
- Their skill sets.
In this post, I will discuss element #3 … skill sets.
One’s skill sets are the abilities each individual in the relationship brings to the situation that they can access when they need to decide what they will do to “move the relationship forward”.
These skill sets include..
- how they handle emotions (emotional intelligence skills)
- their level of self-control (intrapersonal skills),
- how they interact with others (interpersonal skills)
- how they analyze a given situation (critical thinking skills)
- how they approach solving problems (problem solving skills)
- how they communicate with others (communication skills)
- how they deal with perceived risk (risk management skills)
Your skill sets are the behaviors you have learned over your life span to deal with different types of situations. Skill sets are influenced by different environments including family, work, school, the military and so forth and become habitual over time through practice.
You learn how to act by…
- watching others in different situations
- observing the reactions of people to what others do
- making decisions about what to do based on how others respond to you.
- being challenged to solve a problem
- having someone teach you a specific skill
When an individual behaves inappropriately in a given situation, you can usually attribute their actions to a skill set deficit when..
- their Model of the World (perception of what is going on between you and them) is accurate and
- you can account for their psychological state
How do you identify “skill set” deficits?
You get the feeling that the behavior you are observing just doesn’t “fit”.
In other words the observed behavior may be too much or too little in terms of..
- verbalizations (what they say or don’t say),
- dealing with the issue at hand,
- listening skills,
Looking at a person’s behavior as the “best” they can do leaves you open to exploring whether the actions of another comes about because, if their model is accurate and their psychological state is not a factor, they don’t know any other more appropriate way to handle the situation.
If this is the situation in which you find yourself, you have to weigh your options.
- Perhaps, they need to acquire new skills.
If this is the case, then educating them about their actions and the consequence of the choices they have made and suggesting alternatives such as being assertive (or any of the other skill sets mentioned above) may be all that is needed.
- Perhaps, you need to adjust how you deal with them.
A few years ago, I asked professional women what kind of responses they received when they appropriately expressed anger. I received over 2000 responses which clearly indicated that these women were demeaned, devalued, or discounted when they expressed their anger. I suggested that they needed to use their anger to motivate their pursuing needed changes but that they needed to express their anger in a more indirect manner.
- Perhaps, you need to get out of the relationship
An example might be a friend or family member who is addicted to drugs and who tends to be agitated and defensive in their interactions with you. All your efforts to help them change have been unsuccessful and the relationship is taking its toll on you. You might decide to continue “loving” them and to be “available” if they choose to change but to keep your distance from them.
- aids you in building a relationship with another person
- informs you where to look if the relationship isn’t working or is having problems. The issue might be their behavior or yours.
- helps you navigate through a relationship which could have important negative consequences for you if not handled well
- sets a standard for how you view the actions of another individual within the context of your relationship with that person.
In the last four posts, I have introduced you to the Basic Relationship Rule (BRR).
I have also discussed each of the elements that comprise the BRR and given some examples of how to implement the Rule to improve your relationships.
While my focus has largely been on you attempting to understand and accommodate the actions of those you have to relate to, it is important to note that sometimes the issue may be your behavior and their attempts to deal with and understand you. The BRR is equally relevant and powerful as a tool for critically looking at and understanding the actions you take.
So, when you are attempting to build a relationship with others or a relationship you already have isn’t working, your first step should be to apply the BRR to yourself and then apply it to others.
As Steven Covey put it..seek first to understand and then be understood.
Or, as it applies to the BRR… Seek first to assure that you are not the problematic issue and then look at the other person’s behavior as an issue.