“The way we [interact] with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”
— Tony Robbins
“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Every life is a canvas and every interaction is a brush, therefore we’d be wise to consider how we handle the paint.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough
How To Get Along More Effectively . . . With Everyone: Part 1
How often are you frustrated with people who won’t do things the right way? Is there someone you walk on eggshells around?
What if I told you one simple tool could improve every interaction you have?
But it takes a little setting up before it’ll make sense.
What You’ll Get
This tool will calm you down if you’re stressed or anxious.
It’ll increase your confidence and satisfaction with yourself.
You’ll be better equipped to get the job you need (or want).
Your primary relationship will become satisfying (and even enjoyable!) like every marriage or partnership should be. (why be with someone if it’s not pleasant?)
Making decisions will become easier for you.
I could go on and on about the many benefits I’ve discovered since I developed this tool. Let me start by telling you what the tool does.
Simply put, it guarantees you the best possible outcome from every interaction you have, with anybody . . . any time.
I’ve seen it happen. With many clients.
Initial promising steps let you grasp the fundamentals. Then it keeps getting better and better.
Only two options??
Whenever we interact with someone, we have at least two choices. Whenever we interact with someone, we choose how we’ll interact. They’re called “interaction styles.” (clever, huh?)
The problem is most of us are aware of only two styles.
And both of them are bad. (really lousy, actually)
We’ll use compass points to talk about these styles.
Qualities of West
If you’re in the west, then you’re good at taking care of yourself, looking out for your best interest, even getting your way.
But you don’t care much about others.
You’ll use hostility, intimidation, and even violence if necessary. The damage is causes others? Oh well. That’s not your problem.
For a westerner, it’s WIN-lose (they win, others lose).
Qualities of East
When you’re in the east, you’re very attentive to others. You make sure they’re taken care of, don’t want to ruffle feathers, and you really want to please.
But you sacrifice yourself.
The easterner ends up losing because they’re so intent on placating others.
For an easterner, it’s lose-WIN (they lose, others win).
The problem is that both of these choices are problematic for someone.
But we always feel forced to choose. Who gets the top bunk? Do I take the last one? She usually has the advantage, so I’m taking it this time. He’s worked so much, so I’ll excuse his bad behavior; he’s just tired.
Randall & Sondra
Randall* and Sondra* had put off marriage for almost ten years. They loved each other, but they wanted help deciding whether to call it quits and move on.
Randall wanted Sondra to stay. She was usually agreeable, his family liked her and thought Randall had done well to get her. But he wanted a pre-nuptial agreement, which Sondra wasn’t agreeable to.
Sondra was the one who kept bringing up a split. She said they were always arguing now because she was tired of Randall being so controlling. According to Sondra, on the morning she was to report to a promising new job, Randall took her keys and prevented her from taking the job.
I had to keep the shock from my face. I’m sure my eyebrows went up.
But I learned that Randall had been concerned about the neighborhood the job was located in and didn’t want Sondra taking chances with her safety in that part of town. Oh, and he added that he thought the guy who hired her, well, he didn’t like him.
Sondra was first to identify with a compass direction. “I’ve always been in the east. I took up residence and put down roots!”
Randall started to interrupt her again when I asked him to let her finish.
“Can you believe I declined the job just to keep the peace with Randall? That’s really an eastern attitude, right?” I had to agree. Her voice got higher as she got louder. “Well I’m done being his doormat! He’s always getting his way and treats me like his servant! But I’m done. I’m just DONE!”
I didn’t think it was the right moment to point out that in her frustration, that she had just flipped over to the west side. Being fed up as an easterner and taking Randall’s crap, she had no option but to jump into his western territory and duke it out with him.
Now I had two westerners in a cage together.
Maybe this was what they meant about the fights they said were becoming so frequent.
After learning how Sondra and Randall’s relationship worked and teaching them about the either/or choices they had been stuck with, I taught them that there’s an alternative. It’s not only east or west.
And I love being the bearer of good news!
While both east and west interaction styles are poor options, I told them there’s a third option that perfectly balances out the two negative ones.
East and west are compass points, and so is the third alternative. It’s represented as north, higher than both west or east, because it’s a better choice.
Qualities of North
In the north, you stand up for yourself AND you look out for the other’s best interest.
You make sure that you win, but the other party must win, too.
For the northerner, it’s always WIN-WIN.
Randall was taking this in, but Sondra seemed especially interested that there could be a north, a real WIN-WIN territory.
“But how could I have taken a northern approach when he blocked me from taking that dream job?”
I said, “Remember, the north ensures that you look out for him, and you could have taken big steps in that direction by keeping your voice down as you calmly took care of yourself by saying something like, ‘I appreciate that you’re concerned for my safety, and this is still my decision, so I’m taking an Uber so I’m not late on my first day.’ ”
She said, “wow.”
It’ll Work for You, Too
Applying the compass approach also worked for my client who wanted his wife to stay, but in his western manner, had been angry and even violent with her. As he learned more aspects of the northern style, I taught him how to actually apply it, and he ultimately saved his marriage.
The compass approach helped my incredibly anxious client who couldn’t stay calm at work anymore because the mere sound of her abusive boss’s voice sent her into near-panic mode. The more determined she got to keep heading north, the more confident and calm she felt.
Brenda’s* adult daughter still lived with her and likely would for a long time. Among other reasons it was mainly because Jean* struggled with mild mental illness. But as Brenda learned to visit the north more often, her sense of overwhelm and even the resentment she had started to feel toward Jean naturally subsided. It took time to learn this technique, but the immediate relief Brenda felt kept her motivated to keep working on it. And it was icing on the cake when Jean (Brenda’s daughter) learned to apply The Interaction Dial to interactions she was having with herself. She steadily improved her self-image, her drive, and even her ability to be independent.
Even the parents who were having difficulty with their teenaged daughter found things quickly improve when they put aside Mom’s western approach and Dad’s eastern tendencies and united as Team North to adopt a WIN-WIN strategy to interact with their very troubled daughter. The girl had no idea what was happening, but she responded better to Mom and Dad’s northern approach until she expressed interest in visiting their northern training grounds herself.
All of these people found further relief and success when I taught them the whole The Interaction Dial with all its subtleties and nuances. They each learned how the south was sneakily undermining their efforts in varying degrees.
Watch for part 2 about your interaction styles. You’ll learn what’s happening in the south, how it’s always your choice, and how you can effectively transform any relationship.
In the meantime, begin to notice, in any interaction you find yourself in, whether your approach was more from the west or from the east.
Then begin to imagine how you could have approached it differently to move north even a little bit.
* all names are composite characters based on several different clients. This preserves everyone’s confidentiality.