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Most complex challenge we encounter in day today life is the understanding of human behaviour. Why did one behave in a certain way...?? Many a times we are clueless about the source of our behaviour when it comes to interactions. We tend to behave differently with different people and our behaviour also alters depending on situations. It is as if we become different people at different instances. Here is an effort to help you understand your own as well as other’s interaction pattern step by step so that you may choose the way interactions shape in the most fulfilling way.
Initial Positioning: 4 Pivotal Positions that decide our interaction pattern
From a 3-month old infant to an 80-year-old adult, we have one thing common about the interaction pattern, which is the initial positioning. Initial positioning primarily places the person who interacts with us in 4 categories. Positioning usually is carried out from the point of view of aspects we value the most in our life. For instance, one’s intrinsic criteria to gauge another person could be, dressing sense, confidence or composure level, perceived sense of beauty, perceived authority etc. We tend to put the person we encounter in the category for equals, lower, higher or indifferent hence limiting our interaction pattern to the pertaining section of roles or Identities(‘I’s). This is an identification which happens the minute you set your eyes on the person unconsciously & mostly remains so throughout unless you take an opportunity to know the person in question closely. Most important thing about this identification is that you start communicating it to the other person, in different ways during interaction.
Step 1: Be consciously aware of your automatic positioning of the other person. Understand where exactly you have placed him/her. In lower, equal, higher or indifferent category...?
Your perception of other person’s identification with initial positioning: Mutual Consensus
After the initial positioning, there is an unconscious attempt to gauge the way other person has been behaving to confirm your initial stand. You tend to look for the clues of identification with your categorisation. If you find the identification, you get comfortable in the interaction & switch to the set of roles which exist for the category. If the other person refuses to identify with your category, which is communicated through his/her nonverbal behaviour, there will be an ongoing confusion till there are mutual consensus. Once a certain positioning is set between people in question, it takes a form of power game. Each one tries his/her level best to reaffirm the position & take advantage of it. People start developing affinity for one of 4 positions in line with their needs, belief system and past experiences and start communicating it actively through their nonverbal behaviour. They want to be in this position most of the time. Non-verbal behaviour of the person communicates his comfortable position even though he might not identify with this very position consciously. For instance, there would be very few who would choose to be at a lower position intentionally. So end of the day, we tend to decide other’s perception of us more than them by the way we have been perceiving ourselves habitually.
Step 2: Observe the non-verbal behaviour of other person during interaction and check if the other person is behaving according to your positioning or if you are behaving according to his/her positioning.
Multiple ‘I’s that are embedded in the single 'I'
Do you think you are an integrated person with one track mind...?? Maybe you want to be so. However, reality is different. There are many tracks running from one mind creating multiple ‘I’s or roles. Sometimes you are completely logical & intentional in your behaviour & other times you may only hope so. There are times when identities which do not really think & act take over. If you look at yourself closely, you would be aware of multiple roles within you & their respective identities. Some roles tend to come out only with certain people under some situations. There could be a person who is dominating, understanding and submissive right within you. There could be a person who is teasing, cribbing, analysing and questioning in same package. Each role is associated with its own set of behaviours & emotions. Every time you express a particular role, you tend to experience that side of you, along with respective emotions. Each one of us tend to hold certain number of intrinsic roles which we have experienced & strengthened so far.
Step 3: Observe your interaction with others to recognise different roles or identities within you along with the emotions associated with them. Notice the roles which you are most comfortable in & vice versa.
The Game of Interaction, Automatic onset of a matching ‘I’ or ‘I’s
Interaction between two people is exactly like any other game that is played between two people. Just the way we choose our move based on that of opponent though picking from our own skill set in a game of tennis, we play the game of interaction. During any interactions, the choice of role depends on 3 things. Firstly, the position you have taken about the other person say equal, secondly the repository of roles you have within you for the chosen position, say teasing, expressing, explaining & cribbing and finally the other person’s choice of role during the interaction. You tend to compliment the other person by using that side of you, which embeds perfectly with the side he has been exposing. If in this instance other person has been teasing you, you tend to take explaining role from your repository, which binds with his choice of role in a seamless way and makes the interaction satisfactory.
Step 4: Choose one person, with whom you would observe the game of interaction. Pay attention to all the 3 steps closely.
Interpretation of the perceived acceptance level
Interaction is a game where each party is unconsciously & subtly craving for the upper hand or the power position. Power position here mostly is the need to make oneself heard or understood & possibly appreciated. The need for agreement & acceptance. Each party is continuously perceiving the extent to which his expressed role is being accepted by the other. Depending on the perceived acceptance level, we may switch to another role or get confused & transfer the control to the other party. For example, you may be advising your friend about stocks and in middle of the communication you notice her not being so inclined hence you switch to teasing role and tell her how exactly she looks when she is bored. In the beginning you had taken an advising role from higher position & eventually you shifted to teasing role from an equal position.
Step 5: Observe the way interaction shifts with the intention of maximizing the mutual acceptance
Role of self-esteem during interactions
Self-esteem is the value you associate with yourself at different tasks, with different people & in different situations. Self-Esteem plays the pivotal role in self-perception. A person who carries himself with ease in most of the situations tend to be carefree hence gives a signal to another that he is composed, confident & comfortable in his shoes. This message is strong & plays an important role when the other person is deciding your position from where he stands. It gets difficult for him to place you in the lower category, when you are oozing confidence hence lets you choose your repository of roles to begin with and lead the communication. Every situation or interaction can be used to enhance your self-esteem irrespective of the way situation goes. Here is a simple & effective way to boost self-esteem.
Step 6: Look out for the sort of people & situations where you are not comfortable and locate the reasons for the same.
Possibility for Rationality in Behaviour
Interaction is a spontaneous process. It brings out multiple sides of you. Though it seems like a rational process where you think and act, it mostly is not so. However, there is a possibility for rationality in your behaviour, if you start observing yourself closely and gain a deeper understanding of all your exposed roles. This would help you to recognise the onset of a particular aspect of you & control its progress intentionally during the interaction. You need not keep roles which you don’t like however you need to be aware of them to drop them. Additionally, there is a possibility to introduce a fresh role as per your liking, into your repository of roles.
Step 7: Identify the aspects of you; which you cherish & wish to sustain, wish for & want to nurture or despise & want to drop.
We know self self through others to a great extent. Our connection with others is through interactions hence Interactions are the key to self-understanding & expansion. Fulfilling interactions make our life stress free by improving the quality of personal as well as professional relationships. Let’s take steps towards intentional interactions so that we master our life & shape it the way we like...!!
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