As a general guideline, the client may wish to add
together her thirty numerical responses.
This will result in a total interpersonal effectiveness score of from
thirty to one hundred fifty. That total
may then be divided by thirty resulting in a number from 1.0 to 5.0. This represents, for the client, her interpersonal
effectiveness score. Generally, family
members who maintain interpersonal effectiveness score of 4.0 or higher are
relating well within their families.
When there are difficulties, it may be useful for the client to focus on
increasing those characteristics that are already a 3.0 or 4.0 level, with the
idea being that it is easier to do more of what you are already doing
reasonably well. Over time, focus can be
developed in terms of the more problematic characteristics. The exercise is also useful in terms of
having the client rate other members of her family and discussing these
perceptions with the consultant and with the other family members.
Traditionally, focus on interpersonal relationships has been
in terms of problems, difficulties, and explanations as to why things are not
working. This activity addresses the
same type of issue in a positive direction asking why things are working, why
things are going well. What is found is
that interpersonally effective individuals develop and maintain relationships
that reflect an individualized mix of the 30 traits and characteristics in the
activity. If one wants to be more
interpersonally effective, the key is to simply maximize the extent to which
these traits and characteristics are reflected in her relationships.
Increasing a particular trait or characteristic may be
achieved by either directly increasing the trait or characteristic on the one
hand or decreasing the alternative or opposite behavior on the other hand. For example, one may focus on the positive
traits and characteristics of a specific family member. Focusing attention on these positives will
have the effect of increasing the general acceptance of that family member. Alternatively, the opposite of acceptance is
rejection or indifference. Increased
acceptance will be achieved if rejection is decreased and indifference is
exchanged for interest and involvement.
The consultant may facilitate focus on the specific behavioral
correlates involved in either approach to increasing acceptance.
Being more affectionate needs to be understood in physical,
emotional, and social terms. At a
physical level, the client may need instruction in touching, holding, and
caressing in more gentle and affectionate ways.
In addition, verbal tone and content along with facial expression will
need attention. At an emotional level,
the need is for increased positive emotion, expression of pleasure and
satisfaction with the other person, and an increased calm relaxed approach to
the other family member. At the social
level, more spontaneous, positive interaction is needed with the content of
that interaction emphasizing activities and involvements that the other family
member values and enjoys.
Increasing the level of ambition in a client is difficult
but straight forward. The alternative
perception is of the client as being lazy.
The client will need to bring more energy to her activities and family
involvements, will need to actively participate more, and will need to more
clearly function in the interest of the well being and welfare of the family in
physical, emotional, and social terms.
Assertiveness training is explored in great detail in both
the popular and professional literature.
Basically, it operates in two ways.
First, assertiveness falls between passivity and aggression. The passive client needs to learn to stick up
for herself, press her point of view, and more spontaneously share her thoughts
and ideas. The aggressive client must
learn to tone down and modulate her physical, emotional, and social aggression
in ways that make her more attractive and acceptable to other family
members. The key to either strategy is
staying more relaxed, taking more responsibility for individual participation,
and developing specific physical, verbal, emotional, and social techniques
through which one can be an equal and effective participant within the
family. The key to this is assuring that
the client avoids playing games as discussed in the last activity. Honest, congruent, responsible participation
within the family will, by itself, gradually lead to a more appropriately
assertive style of family participation.
Increasing attractiveness comes primarily through
understanding that attractiveness represents the extent to which other members
of the family are attracted to the client.
People are attracted to each other for different reasons in different
ways. Importantly, this attractiveness
mix includes characteristics but also includes behavioral characteristics such
as language, helpfulness, personal appearance, and other aspects of the
physical/doing dimension as discussed in relationship to other activities. One way to get at this is to simply ask other
family members what kinds of things they find attractive within the
physical/doing dimension. Attractiveness
also includes emotional attractiveness in terms of ones moods, general
emotional positiveness, and the way one manages her emotions. Attractiveness goes on to include moral/
spiritual attractiveness, social/interpersonal attractiveness, sexual/ sensual
attractiveness, and intellectual/cognitive attractiveness. Real attractiveness is seldom limited to one
or two areas and virtually never depends more on superficial qualities than on
more general characteristics of the individual.
Of course, it is also important to decrease those factors that other
Considerateness is a similar characteristic and involves
taking the other person into consideration.
This includes consideration for their physical needs and interests, need
for privacy and physical space, need for physical noninterference with their
person or possessions, and a general consideration of them as physical/doing
people. The other dimensions within the
multidimensional functioning of individuals also become focal areas for
consideration. Perhaps easily overlooked
is the need to be considerate of the values and beliefs of others and the need
to be considerate of their individual styles related to intellectual and cognitive
functioning. In addition, people want to
have their feelings taken into consideration and their social styles understood
and considered. Generally, each person
in the family needs to know that each of the other people in the family takes
her into consideration fully, sensitively, and caringly.
The multidimensionality of consistency is similar to that
seen with characteristics already discussed.
It is also closely aligned with dependability in terms of interpersonal
style and interpersonal effectiveness.
Both consistency and dependability can be understood in terms of
physical/doing behavior and activities, following through with commitments and
agreements, and being there when others need someone to be there for them. Importantly, both also have a
feeling/emotional dimension. Emotional
consistency and dependability are perhaps as important as physical/behavioral
consistency and dependability. The same
holds for social consistency and dependability as one is involved in family
activities, relates to other family members, and functions as part of the
familys social environment.
All of these characteristics require the individual to bring
enough energy to family participation to reflect the characteristics with
style, all the time, on purpose. This
applies to physical energy and also applies to emotional and social energy.
Fairness and flexibility are additional characteristics of
the interpersonally effective individual.
Both are closely linked to consideration and convey a fairly simple
approach to other family members. I
will deal with you fairly, responding to your needs, interests, rights, and
responsibilities. If necessary, I will
adjust my thinking, behavior, and attitudes to develop an appropriate
congruence with yours. This means that
along with being fair, I will also relate to you in a flexible way that allows
each of us to be comfortable with ourselves and with each other.
Gentleness may, in fact, be one of the more important
interpersonal elements to cultivate for most individuals experiencing
interpersonal difficulty within the family.
At a system level, most families would function much better if each
family member would simply increase the level of gentleness she brings to
family relationships. Of course,
gentleness is multidimensional as are the other traits and
characteristics. This then includes
emotional gentleness and a gentle approach to social involvement and
participation as well as physical gentleness.
The consultant will find that people frequently need specific
instruction in being more physically gentle but also in being more emotionally
gentle with each other.
Being helpful and hardworking are fairly straightforward
ideas related to doing things that are useful for other family members and for
the family as a whole. Importantly,
though, helpfulness and being hardworking also extend to the emotional and
social environment of the family.
Positive social and emotional environments within the family do not
necessarily occur naturally or spontaneously.
They are a result of effort and the investment of time and energy,
requiring skill and sensitivity.
Essential here is a high level of physical, emotional, and social
involvement in the family and the life of the family.
Honesty, loyalty, and a high priority given to personal
morality give emphasis to the values and beliefs that underlie and support the
family system. Collectively they may be
thought of as representing the individual culture of a family and represent the
base on which all other aspects of family life and involvement rest. They, of course, relate to the actions of
individual family members and to how family members relate to each other
verbally. In addition, though, honesty,
loyalty, and morality also underlie the emotional and social environments with
the family. Focusing specifically on
loyalty, it should be understood that loyalty is a manifestation of the
morality and fundamental honesty of the family and its members. At a basic level, loyalty is the commitment
to hang in there with each other in positive and supportive ways. A commitment to morality and honesty drive
loyalty and become the underlying reason for family members being loyal to each
Openness is very closely related to honesty and thus to
loyalty and morality within the family system.
Developing emotional and intellectual openness is the key and represents
an honest, congruent approach to relating to and participating with
others. It has to do with not masking,
disguising or covering up feelings on the one hand and with not over expressing
feelings and emotions on the other hand.
Similarly, it has to do with candidly and straightforwardly expressing
ones thoughts, views, and ideas without making them seem stronger or more
fixed than they really are. Openness is,
perhaps, at the opposite end of interpersonal styles from games. Everything is out on the table where one can
see it, deal with it, and respond to it.
It is not possible to fully and congruently deal with each other within
the family unless each member is willing and able to develop a high level of
openness with other members of the family.
Patience, playfulness, and positiveness combine with being
relaxed and predictable to develop a level of receptivity and safety for others
that allows them to seek out the individual and relate to her in an easy and
pleasurable manner. An important part of
interpersonal effectiveness has to do with not only how the individual relates
to others but also how easy and facilitated it is for others to relate to her. Patience generally conveys a willingness to
allow the other person to be who she is and to relate in her own time and on
her own terms. The other person does not
develop a sense of demand or expectation with the relationship. The positive opportunity and feedback the
other person receives encourages further relating and involvement. When all of this takes place within a
playful, enjoying each other relationship the interpersonally effective
individual becomes a source of comfort, fun, and escape from the tensions and
turmoils outside of the relationship and outside of the family.
Essential to these and other interpersonally effective
characteristics is a lack of anxiety, tension and turmoil. To achieve this, the individual needs to
learn to consciously and intentionally stay reasonably calm, reasonably
slowed-down, and reasonably free from anxiety and tension. Here the consultant may be of specific
assistance in terms of teaching breathing and other relaxation exercises, such
as self-hypnosis and focused relaxation, or guided imagery. The consultant may also want to interest the
client in some of the relaxation activities found in the study of yoga. The progression usually follows from relaxing
ones respiration and muscles to mental focus or imagery leading to the
relaxation of the mind and rushing thoughts.
These two steps in turn lead to emotional relaxation and a sense of
calmness or equanimity. For clients who
have a tendency toward excess anxiety or tension, the consultant may want to
start with the relaxation element as a prerequisite to effective work in
developing the other positive traits and characteristics.
All of the traits and characteristics discussed to this
point begin to mix and combine to develop the interpersonal presentation or
projection of the individual to other family members and to develop the
interpersonal environment within which others can comfortably relate and
interact. The individual will relate
with style, all the time, on purpose, reflecting a high degree of consistency
Predictability in particular becomes an additional central
factor in relationship to being responsible and being tolerant. The latter let people know how they will be
dealt with while predictability lets them know that tolerance and dependability
are something they can count on and at times can simply take for granted. It is sufficient to note that responsibility
not only applies to physical/doing behavior and action but also applies to
being emotionally responsible, morally responsible, socially responsible,
sexually responsible, and intellectually responsible.
An important part of being responsible involves being
tolerant. It is an attitude that is
conveyed making it clear that no one is expected to be perfect, expected to do
all things correctly at all times. In
addition, it conveys an acceptance of others that lets them know that it is
okay for them to be who they are without criticism or ridicule.
As can be seen by this point, spontaneity is, then, more
than being verbally or socially spontaneous.
When something is spontaneous, it occurs without any obvious or external
cause or stimulus. It happens simply as
a function of the situation, the circumstances, or the general environmental
mix present at the time. Family members
who are ambitious, assertive, consistent, dependable, decisive, energetic,
helpful, involved, open, and responsible in physical, emotional, and social
terms will be spontaneous as a part of their effective family
individuals who are not relating physically, emotionally, and socially in
spontaneous ways need to first understand the extent to which they are also not
manifesting other positive and effective traits and characteristics. This insight usually leads to increased
spontaneity, especially if the consultant will take a coaching role with the
individual in terms of teaching and encouraging relative to spontaneous
behavior and opportunities for spontaneity.