This activity begins to consolidate the skills and insights
developed through the development of multidimensional style, understanding of
group roles, and consideration of the elements of interpersonally effective
relationships. Most clients will be
comfortable with the forced choice nature of the activity, although some will
not. For those individuals, the consultant
will need to emphasize the concept of approximation in relationship to the
style type and encourage the individual to pick that quadrant that most
approximates his style. For a few
individuals, it will become clear that they do not reflect any consistent style
and spend significant portions of their family energy moving from quadrant to
quadrant in terms of style and self-projection.
These individuals may be thought of as chameleons or style
switchers. The major problem they are
experiencing is a significant lack of consistency and predictability. They are, rather, simply trying to
accommodate to the needs, whims, and projections of others. This by itself becomes a focus for
For most individuals who are old enough and reflect enough
conceptual development, however identifying with one of the quadrants will be
something they are able to do rather quickly and spontaneously. At the individual level, it is important for
the consultant to focus in terms of the extent to which the individual
interpersonal style of the client manifests itself as a game as discussed in an
earlier activity. Assuming that the
client functions in a relatively game free manner, the consultant may encourage
an expansion of the perspective from which the activity is viewed.
At a family level, identification of the styles of each family
member may be accomplished in two ways.
First, the individual client may simply indicate where he thinks each
family member belongs in the grid. If
two or more family members are participating in the process, they may discuss
and try to involve themselves in-group decision making relative to the
appropriate assignment of each family member.
At those points where there is disagreement, sharing perceptions of each
other will, itself, be a useful intrafamily process. In addition, the observations of the
consultant add an outside perspective to the family discussion.
Importantly, assignment of a family member to one of the
quadrants does not represent a value judgment.
Being in one quadrant is not better or worse than being in another. The key is simply recognizing and owning
ones personal interpersonal style.
Focusing on the pacifiers, it is important to see that their
being helpful, loyal, responsible, dependable, and consistent adds a level of
stability and cooperation within the family that is a very positive, systemic
factor. Their orientation to pacifying
has the effect of minimizing conflict and tension and increases the ability of
the family to get along and get things done on a day to day basis.
Alternatively, the orientation toward pacifying works
against their accepting personal responsibility at times and represents a
somewhat short-sighted orientation to problems, difficulties, and significant
The street fighters inclination to be decisive, assertive,
spontaneous, energetic, and flexible has the effect of moving family processes
and activities along. Decisions are
made, points of view are expressed, participation occurs as a function of the
situation or circumstances, energy is high, and the family is able to change
directions, change plans, and respond to what is going on at the moment. Alternatively, the street fighter may be
somewhat inconsiderate of the needs and interest of others. May somewhat
overwhelm or overpower other members of the family, and may be seen as not able
to stick to his ideas, convictions, beliefs, or feelings. The predominate impression may be of an
insensitive, self-serving approach to family life.
The gravitators orientation to unanimity seeking is
furthered through his playful, gentle, open, patient, accepting approach to
other members of the family. Each member
of the family feels acknowledged, understood, and important. The positive effect is a comfortable and safe
environment for all. Alternatively, the
unanimity seeker may be viewed as not really understanding the significance or
seriousness of problems or difficulties, not being able to be tough and make
the hard decisions when that is necessary, unnecessarily gullible, and unable
to protect his interests or those of the family.
The cheerleaders being involved, positive, relaxed,
attractive, and supportive gives him a special place in the family. He is seen as invested in and committed to
the life of the family, is always able to see the brighter side of things, is
someone to whom others are drawn, and represents a source of continuing
encouragement and affirmation.
Alternatively, he may be viewed as someone who does not really
understand the significance or seriousness of what is happening, as someone
whos laid back and calm approach represents a lack of sincerity and caring,
and as someone who thinks whatever anyone does or whatever is happening is
alright. The effect is an impression of
superficiality and insensitivity.
Each quadrant represents a somewhat habitual and natural style
and is the style one would tend to project at points of increased stress,
conflict, and tension. At these points,
a somewhat stereotypic style becomes somewhat counter productive and may
interfere with the smooth functioning of the family system. The key through the educational process is
for individuals to recognize those points at which there is increased stress or
tension and make some adjustment in or accommodation of style to increase
interpersonal congruence and compatibility.
How is this done? The
idea is uncomplicated but not always easy.
The client looks at the specific situation and pattern of interaction
and determines where each individual is functioning at the time. He then adjusts his style toward the quadrant
that would result in the best fit while still serving the short and long term
interest of the family system. For
example, dictators move more in the facilitator direction or in the levitator
direction, using the elements in the quadrant to which they are moving as
guides or behavioral mandates in reference to how to best reflect more of that
style. This might mean that the dictator
consciously becomes more helpful or more positive, depending on whether he is
moving toward the facilitator quadrant or the levitator quadrant.
Although people will find it nearly impossible to modify
their styles toward the quadrant diagonal from theirs, they will usually have
little difficulty modifying in the direction of a quadrant adjacent to
theirs. The result is that style is not
rigid and unresponsive to people and situations. It is, rather, both responsive to and
sensitive to other family members and specific situations. This ability to appropriately modify style in
turn becomes part of the style of the individual. He is and is seen as an individual who is
sensitive, reasonably accommodating, and orientated to both his interest and
the special needs and interest of other family members and of the family as a