Architecture Room > Emergent Hierarchies > Resolving Interpersonal Differences

Resolving Interpersonal Differences

Introduction: This Tree is emergent from PH4-Experience and contains all the PH-L5 elements. It comes into play when a close relationship has broken down through deep differences, and there is doubt about the presence of a solid interpersonal bond.

Emergence from PH4-Experience

PH4-Experience contains our sense of self and the states that occur within ourselves. It determines life-development and shapes relationships. The psychosocial pressure here is for well-being: we want to feel good and regard feeling bad as a problem to be solved. From childhood on, the most important factor in our well-being (happiness) is found in the quality of our close relationships.

If you want to feel good, you should spend time with others: usually that means friends and family. However, your well-being often depends on others with whom you must relate closely even if the relationship is strained: like a boss, partner or child.

In interpersonal dealings, «close» does not necessarily imply 'intimate': it means continuing, significant and with frequent interactions. All close relationships are complicated things where most is left unspoken. Intuition must be used to shape interactions and sustain the sought after well-being.

There are no close relationships that do not go through choppy waters from time to time. The problem is that no-one ever feels safe enough, loved enough, or appreciated enough. Everyone is different, no-one even knows themselves, and mutual misunderstanding is so easy. As a result, painful emotions flare up, disagreements lead to fights, and mutual hurt or disappointment causes an inner withdrawal and avoidance of interaction. All these can be overcome by goodwill and concerned attention based in intuition.

However, sometimes the differences seem to build without relief, and a level of intolerance and hostility or estrangement slowly develops. Misunderstandings then multiply and intuitions seem to become unhelpful. This is the prelude to splitting up or resigning yourself to continuing miserable isolation.

However, if a lot has been invested in a relationship, it probably has the potential for being productive and happy once again. What is required is attention to the basics of the relationship. The only way to affirm a solid bond against all the odds is to use a framework comprised solely of PH-L5 elements which deliver greater understanding, but at the price of requiring you to take risks.

With the application of understanding, you can and must regard yourself as a partner within the relationship, even if there are status differences.

Examples: Everyone has a range of close interpersonal relationships. This framework can apply to handling a spouse, a child, a parent, a family, a boss, an employee, a neighbour, a friend, a colleague.

ClosedMore on Life's Necessity: Handling Close Relationships.

Relationships vary in how much each is sensitive to the other, controls the other, or uses the other. In all cases, distress or disruption of one party is liable to affect how the other feels.

Empathy is a great help, but cultural values may devalue empathy and allow certain relationships to be characterized by a suppression of feelings e.g. some manager-subordinate relationships. These must still be managed and they may be effective given basic politeness, trust and competence.

A poor relationship with a boss often provokes frustration and anger. Such relationships either split up (i.e. dismissal, resignation), need re-working (i.e. role readjustment, promotion) or lead to enduring maladaptive distress and even illness in the subordinate.

Why the Framework is all PH-L5s

It is hard to maintain understanding when you are feeling misunderstood within a relationship that is cold and distant or is intimate but miserable and painful. But without understanding, you will be unable to feel sufficient empathy, notice what has to be discussed, say what has to said, or do what has to be done.

Investigations into the Root Projection to Primary Hierarchies suggested that PH-L5 elements (within their Primary Hierarchy) are constructed under a psychosocial pressure for understanding (probably with a distinct neurophysiological underpinning).

The Tree framework constituted solely out of PH-L5 elements can therefore be expected to be dedicated to the provision of understanding. Being a Root Tree, each level (KL•) will also retain its usual psychosocial pressures.

Note: The process here assumes that you and your partner converse and enter a genuine dialogue about the relationship i.e. there is a strong link to Communication-RL5.

ClosedConsider Alternatives

Renewal & Recovery

Summary Only: This is an abbreviated overview of the Tree with a focus on the Willingness element. A fuller account is provided in the next topic. Understanding the various Primary Hierarchy elements is assumed. For more details within the Architecture Room, review the relevant part of the Root Projection section.

The heart of the framework is KL4: Feel Good about Risking. Relationships involve the potential for pain. Unlike in other difficult situations, the smallest thing that is said or done can be misunderstood or go wrong in some inexplicable way leading to explosions, emotional hurt and possibly irreparable damage to a joint future. However, saying nothing and doing nothing is not an option because that preserves and even indicates acceptance of the current estrangement or pain-filled interactions. You can always feel good about risking in the sense that if there is no positive response, then you are better of out of the relationship. Although risks must be deliberately and positively taken, dangers can be mitigated by attention to the 8 Centres that feed into that willingness.

Feeding into Risking from above are the 5 Centres that enable renewal of the relationship despite its present damage.

Sensitivities call for strict attention to the language that you use in talking about what is going on, in particular the way you name-KL7 aspects of the relationship. Putting your ego to one side and respecting agreements on how relationship issues are labeled will go far to reducing the risk of emotional explosions. Because terms resonate with meaning and labels have histories, this agreement challenges your tolerance of risks.

Given existing mutual misunderstanding, every interaction has the potential to spiral out of control. You can prevent this danger by management-KL6 of yourself and meetings to resolve matters. If you impose management on the way you present and handle yourself, you become committed to taking the risks. Structuring meetings—the time, place and manner of interaction—can support you in taking risks.

Then you must explain relationship events-KL5 to yourself and to each other. Your understanding will surely differ from the explanation of the same events given by the other. But this ensures your risking becomes realistic. An appreciation of the other's explanations helps get acceptance for the risks you are running.

Feeding into Risking from below are the 3 Centres that enable recovery of a viable modus vivendi for the relation.

Social values-KL3 are relevant in two ways. On the one side, you are encouraged to take risks if your currently unmet needs are going to be met in the future. The risks you take only become credible for the other person if you support relevant shared needs and values operative within your relationship.

Intuitions-KL2 are essential to managing close relations. While they have gone wrong in the past, they now become essential to give you confidence to speak up. Relying on intuitions energizes risking-KL4 and confirms the actions you take.

Bypassing Belief to connect Renewal with Recovery. There are two levels essential for resolving interpersonal differences effectively: how you connect various events (KL5) and needs within the relation (KL3). Explaining how you understand what has been going on validates your support for shared values; while your appreciation of explanations offered to you justifies your insistence on getting your needs met.

Final Common Path: The focus for action is on interventions-KL1 that confirm your intuitions. Every move in the unfolding drama potentially sparks a spiral of improvement in the relationship and can progressively increase well-being. Or not.


Last Updated: 24-Mar-2014




All material here is in a draft form. There will be errors and omissions. Nothing should be copied or distributed without express permission. Thank you.Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016. All Rights Reserved.


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