Happiness is not luck! © Martyn Carruthers 2002
Man soll den anderen so nehmen er ist, nicht so wie man ihn haben moechte.
(See people as they are, not the way that you want them to be. Bari)
If you visit Munich, maybe take a stroll around the beautiful Englischer Garten. I walked there with a German friend, discussing cross-cultural coaching. After stating each concept, my friend would ask: “Alles ist klar?” which means: “Is that clear?”
Clarity seems important to German people, who often ask for assurance that their communications are understood. Germanic people, perhaps more than other cultures, seem to maximize clarity and efficiency.
Although clarity and efficiency may seem desirable in most communication, many people avoid it, finding relief in philosophical, negative, conflicting statements and abstract goals.
Some people avoid clear communication. “Alles ist nicht so klar!” It is not so clear!
You can develop your clarity. For example, you may treat your intimate partner as a human being whom you value and with whom you want a long-term intimate relationship. If you perceive your partner as a child, or as a parent, or as a colleague – confusion will follow – even if both of you accept or even enjoy these roles.
I created a simple hierarchy of relationship types, with the approximate ages when most people can begin fulfilling the relationship responsibilities of that type, and some key responsibilities.
|Approx Age||Relationship Hierarchy||Example Relationship Skills|
|0+||Childhood||Express emotions, learning to walk, talk, use toilet|
|3+||Extended Family||Group play, patience, sharing, delay gratification|
|5+||Friends||Keep promises, complete tasks, trust others|
|11+||Teams||Active co-operation, accept group rules, modesty|
|16+||Partnership||Create and maintain intimacy, make intimate space|
|21+||Parenthood||Create supportive home, develop child raising skills|
|24+||Community||Community participation, action and support|
|28+||Global||Humanitarian / Environmental / Systemic activities|
You can gain both clarity and skills during each relationship experience – and you can use these skills in subsequent relationships. If you get stuck in one relationship experience – you may be unable to advance until you master the missing skills.
If you cannot maintain a friendship, you are unlikely to be accepted by a healthier team. If you cannot function in a team, you are less likely to commit to a long-term partnership. Instead you may seek distorted relationships (e.g. symbiosis and codependence) and be accepted (or at least tolerated) by other unskilled people.
Most people want better relationships – but motivation alone is not enough. Relationship skills are needed – skills based on supportive beliefs and values.
If you are “stuck” at a relationship level, you may appear emotionally immature and age regressed – people may say that you act like a teenager or a child. (Sometimes a woman may comment that her partner is more like another child to care for.)
Common causes of relationship stuckness include emotional incest and trauma. Events such as parental separation and parental alienation can have traumatic consequences. We help people clarify and change their relationships.
Dynamic & Frozen Relationships
Are your relationships dynamic? Are you developing on many levels, while testing and pushing your limits? Dynamic relationships allow freedom, growth and inter-dependence. Your relationships can freeze if you avoid challenges and development.
Frozen relationships are often attempts to cling to childish beliefs and immature decisions. People in frozen relationships often avoid details and prefer fuzzy communication. Communicating with such people can be like talking to foggy walls.
It is useful to recognize the abstractions used while communicating. If communication is arbitrarily divided into levels of abstraction (loosely based on the genius of Dr Gregory Bateson), the following hierarchy results, which includes example questions that you can use to increase clarity.
|Abstraction||Self Questions||Relationship Questions|
|Things||What is it?
What does it do?
|Who does it belong to?
How can we use it?
|Emotions||What am I feeling?
How can I express my feelings?
|What feelings do I want to share?
How do you respond to my emotions?
How do you express your emotions?
|Communication||What do I express?
What do I respond to?
|How do you respond to me?
What are your wishes?
|Actions & Consequences||What am I doing?
What do I want?
|How do you respond to my actions? How do I respond to your wishes?|
|Competencies||What am I capable of?
What else can I do?
|Who does this influence?
Who should do this?
|Beliefs||What is true? What is possible? What is right?||How can we express our beliefs? How do we respond to each other’s beliefs? How do we decide what is right?|
|Values||What is important?
What is worthwhile?
|What values do we share? Whose values are most important?|
|Identity||Who am I?
What are my qualities?
|Who are you? What are our relationship responsibilities?|
|Relationships||What am I part of?
What is my role?
|How close or distant are we?
How can we co-operate together?
|Planet / Humanity||Why am I here?
What is my purpose?
|How do our lives affect this planet? How can we help our planet survive?|
|Creation / Cosmos||What is the purpose of creation?||How can we relate with manifest creation and unmanifest potential?|
These questions are examples of how you may clarify your concepts for yourself, and also clarify presuppositions within your relationships.
Note that these questions may irritate people who prefer fuzzy communications and confused relationships.
Contact us to resolve emotional and relationship problems.