Models of human relationships—tools to understand people

This post will not teach you the mod­els here. This post is a sum­mary of the mod­els that I carry in my head. I have writ­ten most of the de­scrip­tions with­out look­ing them up (See Feyn­man note­book method). If you have read a book on ev­ery one of these points they will make sense, as if you were shak­ing hands with an old ac­quain­tance. If you are see­ing them for the first time, they won’t make very much sense or they will feel like a sur­face triv­ial truth.

I can’t make you read all the books but maybe I can offer you that the an­swer to so­cial prob­lems is sur­pris­ingly sim­ple. After read­ing enough books you start to see the over­lap and re­al­ise they of­ten are try­ing to talk about the same thing. (i.e. NVC + Gottman go to­gether well).

In fact if you were sev­eral in­de­pen­dent dragon hunters try­ing to model an in­visi­ble beast and all of var­i­ous peo­ple’s home­made sen­sors kept go­ing “ping” at similar events you would prob­a­bly start to agree you were chas­ing the same mon­ster. Models should start to agree when they are talk­ing about the same thing. The va­ri­ety of mod­els should make it eas­ier for differ­ent minds to con­nect to differ­ent parts of the an­swer.

All mod­els are wrong, some mod­els are use­ful. Try to look at where the mod­els con­verge. That’s where I find the truth.


1. The book Cru­cial Con­fronta­tions—Kerry Patterson

http://​www.wik­i­sum­maries.org/​wiki/​Cru­cial_Con­ver­sa­tions:_Tools_for_Talk­ing_When_Stakes_are_High
(with­out ex­plain­ing how) If you can nav­i­gate to a place of safety in a con­ver­sa­tion you can say pretty much any­thing. Which is not to say “here is how to be a jerk” but if you know some­thing is go­ing to come across nega­tive you can first make sure to be in a pos­i­tive/​agree­able/​sup­port­ive con­ver­sa­tion be­fore rais­ing the hard thing.

In the mid­dle of a yel­ling match is maybe not the best time to bring up some­thing that has bugged you for years. How­ever a few sen­tences about growth mind­set, sup­port­ing peo­ple be­ing a bet­ter per­son and try­ing to help (and get­ting a feel that the per­son is ready to hear the thing) and you could tell any­one they are a lazy bum who needs to shape up or ship out.

The con­ver­sa­tion needs to be safe. For ex­am­ple—“I want to help you as a per­son and I know how hard it can be to get feed­back from other peo­ple and I want to make you into a bet­ter per­son. I have an idea for how you might like to im­prove. Be­fore I tell you I want to re­as­sure you that even though this might come across abra­sive I want to help you grow and be bet­ter in the fu­ture...”

(some peo­ple will be eas­ier than oth­ers to nav­i­gate a safe con­ver­sa­tion and that’s where there are no hard and fast rules for how to do this. Go with your gut)

The crux of this model is “have a model of the other per­son” [15]

2. The part­ner book “Difficult con­ver­sa­tions

http://​www.peace.ca/​difficult­con­ver­sa­tions.pdf

There are 4 types of difficult con­ver­sa­tions around com­mu­ni­cat­ing a de­ci­sion:
a. Con­sul­ta­tion (Bob asks Alice for ideas for the de­ci­sion he is go­ing to make on his own)
b. Col­lab­o­ra­tion (Bob and Alice make a de­ci­sion to­gether)
c. Dec­la­ra­tion (Bob tells al­ice the de­ci­sion he has made)
d. Del­e­ga­tion (Bob tells al­ice to make the de­ci­sion)

As some­one’s boss you may some­times have to pass on bad news in the form of a dec­la­ra­tion. It’s up to you which con­ver­sa­tion this is go­ing to be but be­ing clear about what con­ver­sa­tion this is will be helpful to a per­son to un­der­stand their place in re­spond­ing or in­ter­act­ing with you. It be­comes difficult where there is a mi­s­un­der­stand­ing about what is go­ing on.

It’s also im­por­tant when you are on the re­ceiv­ing end to be on the same page about what con­ver­sa­tion this is. (you don’t want to be ne­go­ti­at­ing in a col­lab­o­ra­tive man­ner when they are try­ing to give you a dec­la­ra­tion of their de­ci­sion, and the same when you are lead­ing the con­ver­sa­tion).

Among other de­tails in the book.

3. Get­ting the 3rd story.

link­ing back to—https://​en.wikipe­dia.org/​wiki/​Fun­da­men­tal_at­tri­bu­tion_er­ror
(from one of those books [1] or [2])

Bob knows what hap­pened from his per­spec­tive and Alice knows her ver­sion of events. Where there is a dis­agree­ment of what fol­lows from differ­ent ver­sions of events it is pos­si­ble to con­struct a 3rd per­son story. This may be hard to do when you are in­volved and an ac­tual 3rd per­son can help but is not cru­cial in con­struct­ing the story. If you can step out­side of your own story and con­struct a 3rd ver­sion to­gether this can re­solve mi­s­un­der­stand­ings.
Some­thing like; “I thought you said we should meet here, even though I said I wanted ice-cream, you thought that meant we should meet at the ice-cream place next door and we each waited 30mins for the other one to turn up to where we were.“. By con­struct­ing a 3rd story it’s pos­si­ble that no one was at fault. It’s also pos­si­ble that it can be­come clear what went wrong and how to learn from that or what can be done differ­ently.

(cue busi­ness man­age­ment After-Ac­tion-Re­view ac­tivi­ties {what did we do well, what could we have done bet­ter, what would we do differ­ently}, now SWOT)

4. The Gottman In­sti­tute re­search (and book)

The 4 horse­men of di­vorce (but just be­cause that’s what the re­search is about doesn’t mean we can’t ap­ply it el­se­where) (yes Gottman is limited in value be­cause of bad use of statis­tics we can’t be sure the mod­els are ac­cu­rate, I still find it’s a good model at ex­plain­ing things).

Don’t do these things. When you see these things, recog­nise them for what they are and don’t en­gage with them. If nec­es­sary ac­knowl­edge peo­ple are feel­ing cer­tain an­gry feel­ings and let them get them out (not ev­ery­one can effi­ciently drop how they are feel­ing and get on with talk­ing about it, es­pe­cially not with­out prac­tice).

Each one has an an­ti­dote, usu­ally in the form of an at­ti­tude or strat­egy that can leave you think­ing about the same thing differ­ently and re­lat­ing to it differ­ently.

I. Crit­i­cism
I would re­name to “in­her­ent crit­i­cism”. Comes in the form of an in­her­ent de­scrip­tor like, “you are a lazy per­son”, “you always run late”. “you are the type of per­son who for­gets my birth­day”[see 5]. Try to re­place in­her­ent crit­i­cism with *[6] con­crete de­scrip­tions of ac­tions.

To counter this—try de­scrip­tions like [6a]: “I can see you are sit­ting on the couch right now and I would like you to offer help when you can see me clean­ing”. “yes­ter­day I saw you try to do a few ex­tra tasks and that caused us to run late”, “you for­got my birth­day last year”.

The im­por­tant thing about the change here is that an in­her­ent la­bel comes in the form of an un­change­able be­lief. It’s equiv­a­lent to say­ing, “you are a tall per­son”. It’s fixed in time, space and at­ti­tude. You don’t want to give some­one a fixed nega­tive trait. Not in your head and es­pe­cially not out of your head ei­ther to that per­son or to any­one else. You set some­one up for failure if you do. As soon as some­one is “the lazy one” you give them the ticket to “always be lazy” and if they are half smart they will prob­a­bly take it. Be­sides—you don’t change peo­ple’s ac­tions by us­ing crit­i­cism. You maybe re­lieve some frus­tra­tion but then you have cre­ated some open frus­tra­tion and the prob­lem still ex­ists.

II. Defen­sive­ness
Prob­a­bly eas­iest to un­der­stand by the de­scrip­tion of re­ac­tive defen­sive­ness. It usu­ally comes as a re­ac­tion to an ac­cu­sa­tion. If two peo­ple are yel­ling, chances are nei­ther is listen­ing. In re­sponse to “you are always mak­ing us run late”, a defen­sive re­ac­tion would be, “I make us run late be­cause you always stress me out”.

It does two things:
1. claim to not be re­spon­si­ble
2. make a sec­ond ac­cu­sa­tion (can be ir­rele­vant to the sub­ject at hand).

First of all if you are bring­ing up sev­eral prob­lems at once you are go­ing to con­fuse mat­ters. Try to deal with one prob­lem at a time. It doesn’t re­ally mat­ter which so long as you are not yel­ling about be­ing late while they are yel­ling about you for­get­ting the laun­dry. (and so long as you deal with all the prob­lems)

The sec­ond part is that you can’t shift blame. Ab­sorb­ing some blame does not make you a bad per­son. Nor does it make you in­her­ently ter­rible. You can have both done a wrong thing and not be a bad per­son. After all you had your rea­sons for do­ing what you did.

The an­ti­dote to defen­sive­ness is to ac­knowl­edge [6] what they have said and move for­ward with­out re­act­ing.

III. Con­tempt
This is about an in­ter­nal state as much as an ex­ter­nal state. Con­tempt is about the story we tell our­selves about the other per­son (see NVC) and is a state of nega­tive in­tent. I hold you con­temp­tu­ously. For ex­am­ple, “a good per­son would not run late”, “if you were smarter you would just...“, “I work so hard on this re­la­tion­ship and you just...“, Some ex­am­ples of dis­plays of con­tempt in­clude when a per­son uses sar­casm, cyn­i­cism, name-call­ing, eye-rol­ling, sneer­ing, mock­ery, and hos­tile hu­mour [see 7 - emo­tional in­tel­li­gence about phys­iolog­i­cal events]. This over­laps with In­her­ent crit­i­cism and makes more sense with [6 NVC].
Con­tempt has two an­ti­dotes, Teacher mind­set and cu­ri­os­ity. Teacher mind­set can change an at­ti­tude of, “He should know what he did wrong” to, “I need to ex­plain to him how to do it right”. Cu­ri­os­ity [See NVC, also [3] the 3rd story] can take you to a place of try­ing to un­der­stand what is go­ing on and take you away from the place of the sto­ries we tell our­selves.[10]

IV. Stonewal­ling
This is a phys­iolog­i­cal state of go­ing silent. It is used when you are be­ing lec­tured (for ex­am­ple) and you go silent, pos­si­bly start think­ing about ev­ery­thing else while you wait for some­one to finish. It’s like hold­ing your breath when you go un­der­wa­ter, wait­ing for it to pass. If you are do­ing this what you need to do is take a break from what­ever is go­ing on and do some­thing differ­ent, for ex­am­ple go for a walk and calm down.
There was a clas­sic joke, they asked a 110 year old why he lived so long and he said, ev­ery time I got into an ar­gu­ment with my wife I used to go for a walk. I went on a lot of walks in my life.
Be­cause this is a phys­iolog­i­cal state it’s so easy to fix so long as you re­mem­ber to pay at­ten­tion to your in­ter­nal state [see NVC what is most al­ive in you, and 11. what does that look like in prac­tice]

5. How to win friends and in­fluence people

I always recom­mend this book to peo­ple start­ing the jour­ney be­cause it’s a great place to start. Th­ese days I have bet­ter mod­els but when I didn’t know any­thing this was a place to be­gin. Most of my mod­els are now more com­pli­cated ap­pli­ca­tions of the ideas ini­tially pre­sented. You still need weak mod­els be­fore re­plac­ing them with more com­pli­cated ones which are more ac­cu­rate.
The prin­ci­ples and (in brack­ets) what has su­per­seded them for me:

BECOME A FRIENDLIER PERSON
1. Don’t crit­i­cize, con­demn or com­plain. (There are places and meth­ods to do this. Crit­i­cism can be done as [1] from a place of safety or in [4] from a teacher/​men­tor/​growth mind­set. Definitely don’t do it from a place of crit­i­cism. Con­dem­na­tion is more about [10] and is an in­her­ent trait. Progress doesn’t usu­ally hap­pen when we use in­her­ent traits, From Saul Alin­sky’s rules for rad­i­cals—don’t com­plain un­less you have the right an­swer—“I have a prob­lem and you have to figure out how to fix it for me” is not a good way to get your prob­lem solved.)
2. Give hon­est, sincere ap­pre­ci­a­tion. (so long as you are do­ing this out of the good­ness of your heart good. If you are us­ing it for ma­nipu­la­tion you can just not bother. NVC su­per­sedes this. By keep­ing track of what is most al­ive in you, you can do bet­ter than this)
3. Arouse in the other per­son an ea­ger want. (Work out what peo­ple want, work out how to get both your needs met—su­perceded by NVC.)
4. Be­come gen­uinely in­ter­ested in other peo­ple. (de­pends what for. Don’t bother if you don’t want to. That would not be gen­uine. You need to find the gen­uine in­ter­est in­side your­self first.)
5. Smile. (um. Hard to dis­agree with but a de­fault smil­ing state is a good one to cul­ti­vate—from [7] phys­iolog­i­cal states are linked two ways. Smil­ing will make you happy just as be­ing happy will make you smile)
6. Re­mem­ber that a per­son’s name is to that per­son the most im­por­tant sound in any lan­guage. (I don’t know about most im­por­tant but I would say that any­one can re­mem­ber names with prac­tice. http://​bear­lamp.com.au/​list-of-tech­niques-to-help-you-re­mem­ber-names/​)

7. Be a good listener. En­courage oth­ers to talk about them­selves. (NVC—pay at­ten­tion to what is most al­ive in you when you do. Make sure you know about the spec­trum of )
8. Talk in terms of the other per­son’s in­ter­est. (Sure why not. Sales are a lot eas­ier when you are sel­l­ing what peo­ple want. See [15] and NVC to su­per­sede how and why this works)
9. Make the other per­son feel im­por­tant—and do so sincerely. (I guess? I don’t do this ac­tively.)
10 The only way to get the best of an ar­gu­ment is to avoid it. ([9] if you are in an ar­gu­ment some­thing already went wrong)
WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING
11. Show re­spect for the other per­son’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.” (NVC, in­stead of say­ing no, say what gets in the way. “here is ev­i­dence that says oth­er­wise” can be bet­ter than “durr WRONGGG” but I have seen peo­ple use “you are wrong” perfectly fine.)
12. If you are wrong, ad­mit it quickly and em­phat­i­cally. (hard to dis­agree with, but hold­ing onto grudges and guity things is not use­ful. [4] gottman talks about defen­sive­ness, avoid defen­sive­ness and ac­knowl­edge the fact that some­one feels you are at fault first. It will satisfy the psy­cholog­i­cal need aris­ing in an offended per­son [14])
13. Be­gin in a friendly way. (as op­posed to what? Sure I guess.)
14. Get the other per­son say­ing, “Yes, yes” im­me­di­ately. (Yes lad­ders are im­por­tant and valuable. You see bits of this creep­ing into Gottman [4], NVC [6], The game [13] and other prac­tices but no one as yet ex­plains it as well as I would like. The game prob­a­bly has the best com­men­tary on it, short of busi­ness books that es­cape my mem­ory right now)
15. Let the other per­son do a great deal of the talk­ing. (not re­ally im­por­tant who talks so long as you are on the same page and in agree­ment. If you want some­one else to do the emo­tional labour [15] for you, then you can let them. If you want to do it for them you can. Im­pli­ca­tions of EL are not yet clear to me in full. Some places it will be good to do EL for peo­ple, other places they need to do it for them­selves to feel own­er­ship of the prob­lems and solu­tions)
16. Let the other per­son feel that the idea is his or hers. (sure I guess. A good idea is it’s own cham­pion. Ideas that are ob­vi­ously bet­ter will win out. You can’t make a turd beat a di­a­mond but you can em­ploy tricks to pol­ish cer­tain di­a­monds over oth­ers. This tech­nique is bat­tling over lit­tle bits. can be use­ful but I would not rely on it alone.)
17. Try hon­estly to see things from the other per­son’s point of view. (NVC [6] and EL [15] should help do that bet­ter. Imag­in­ing that you are that per­son in a way that is hard to im­part in words be­cause it’s about hav­ing the ex­pe­rience of be­ing that other per­son (see http://​​bear­lamp.com.au/​​zen-koans/​​) and not “just think­ing about it”. needs a longer de­scrip­tion and is an effec­tive tech­nique.)
18. Be sym­pa­thetic with the other per­son’s ideas and de­sires. (NVC su­percedes. Every­one has ba­sic feel­ings and needs that you can un­der­stand, like the need for safety)
19. Ap­peal to the no­bler mo­tives. (giv­ing peo­ple a rep­u­ta­tion to live up to is a valuable tech­nique that I would say only works for qual­ified peo­ple—https://​​en.wikipe­dia.org/​​wiki/​​So­cial_fa­cil­i­ta­tion but does not work so well if you put pres­sure on peo­ple who are less skil­led. Prob­a­bly re­lates to the things go­ing through our head at the time—see also book—the in­ner game of ten­nis, NVC, judge­ment model)
20. Dra­ma­tize your ideas. (I don’t know? Try it. It could work. will not work by virtue of it be­ing a good model of things, might work by luck/​break­ing peo­ple out of their habits)
BE A LEADER
21. Throw down a challenge. (can work if peo­ple are will­ing to rise to a challenge can work against you and cre­ate cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance https://​​en.wikipe­dia.org/​​wiki/​​Cog­ni­tive_dis­so­nance if peo­ple are not will­ing. Need more in­for­ma­tion to make it work)
22. Be­gin with praise and hon­est ap­pre­ci­a­tion. (Don’t give peo­ple a shit sand­wich—slices of com­pli­ments sur­round­ing shit. That’s not re­spect­ful of them. In­stead us­ing [1] nav­i­gate to a place of safety to talk about things)
23. Call at­ten­tion to peo­ple’s mis­takes in­di­rectly. (there are cor­rect and in­cor­rect ways to do this. You can be pas­sive agres­sive about it. I don’t see a prob­lem with be­ing blunt—in pri­vate, in safe con­ver­sa­tions [1] - about what is go­ing on)
24. Talk about your own mis­takes be­fore crit­i­ciz­ing the other per­son. (don’t yam­mer on, but it can help to con­nect you and them and the prob­lem. NVC would be bet­ter than just this)
25. Ask ques­tions in­stead of giv­ing di­rect or­ders. (so­cratic method, can be a drain, need more ad­vanced skills and [15] EL to know if this is ap­pro­pri­ate )
26. Let the other per­son save face. (bet­ter de­scribed in http://​​less­wrong.com/​​lw/​​o4/​​leave_a_line_of_re­treat/​​ I agree with this, but [15] EL might de­scribe it bet­ter)
27. Praise the slight­est and ev­ery im­prove­ment. Be “lav­ish in your praise.” (NVC dis­agrees, praise only what is rele­vant, true and valid. Be a teacher [4] but de­liver praise when praise is due.)
28. Give the other per­son a fine rep­u­ta­tion to live up to. (This is 1926 again. I agree with it. I could use it more)
29. Use en­courage­ment. Make the fault seem easy to cor­rect. (agree, solve the “prob­lem” for some­one else, make it easy to move for­ward)
30. Make the other per­son happy about do­ing the thing you sug­gest. (NVC gives a bet­ter model of do­ing what other peo­ple want, “with the joy of a small child feed­ing a hun­gry duck”)

* Giv­ing peo­ple a pos­i­tive rep­u­ta­tion to live up to. “I trust that you won’t for­get my birth­day again”. Don’t be silly with this, “I have con­fi­dence that you will give me a mil­lion dol­lars” will not ac­tu­ally yield you a mil­lion dol­lars un­less you have rea­son to be­lieve that will work.

6. NVC—Non-Judge­men­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion

I can’t yet do jus­tice to NVC but I am putting to­gether the pieces. Best to watch the youtube talk in the ti­tle link but here are some short points. Also this helps—cnvc.org/​Train­ing/​feel­ings-in­ven­tory
a. Con­crete de­scrip­tionshttp://​bear­lamp.com.au/​con­crete-in­struc­tions/​
In agree­ment with Gottman, be con­crete and spe­cific - The ob­jec­tive test of whether the de­scrip­tion is con­crete is whether the de­scrip­tion can be fol­lowed by an anony­mous per­son to pro­duce the same ex­pe­rience. “you are a lazy per­son” VS “you are sit­ting on the couch”
b. Ac­knowl­edge feel­ingshttp://​bear­lamp.com.au/​feel­ings-in-the-map/​
peo­ple have huge psy­cholog­i­cal needs to be heard and un­der­stood. Any­one can fulfill that need
c. Con­nect that to a need
See the NVC video.
d. Mak­ing a re­quest
See NVC video.
e. Say­ing no by pass­ing your goals for­ward
In­stead of say­ing no, Con­sider what it is that gets in the way of you say­ing no and say that in­stead. Keep in mind vuln­er­a­bil­ity [16]. This also al­lows peo­ple to plan around your fu­ture in­ten­tions. If some­one asks you to buy a new car and you say, “no I plan to save money to­wards buy­ing a house” they can choose to be mind­ful of that in the fu­ture and they can act ac­cord­ingly (not offer­ing you a differ­ent car for sale next week).
f. Con­nect with what is most al­ive in you right now
See video for best de­scrip­tion.

7. Emo­tional intelligence

There is a two way path be­tween phys­iolog­i­cal states and emo­tional states.

Try these:
a. Hold a pen­cil/​pen in your mouth and go back and read the joke about the old man [4]. (ex­pect to find it fun­nier than you did the first time)
b. fur­row your brow while read­ing the first para­graph of this page again (ex­pect to ei­ther feel con­fused or the cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance ver­sion if you know it very well—“I know this too well”)
The two way path means that you can feel bet­ter about emo­tional pain by tak­ing a parac­eta­mol, but more speci­fi­cally, if you take a break from a situ­a­tion and come back to it the emo­tions might have im­proved. This can in­clude get­ting a glass of wa­ter, go­ing for a walk, get­ting some fresh air. And for more com­pli­cated de­ci­sions—sleep­ing on it (among other things).

Every­one can train emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, they need prac­tice. This in­cludes hold­ing an un­der­stand­ing of your own states as well as be­ing able to no­tice emo­tional states in other peo­ple.

I had an ex who had par­tic­u­larly visi­ble phys­iolog­i­cal states, it was a very valuable ex­pe­rience to me to see the state changes and it re­ally trained my guess­ing mind to be able to no­tice changes. Th­ese days I can usu­ally see when things change but I can’t always pick the emo­tion that has come up. This is where NVC and cu­ri­os­ity be­come valuable (also cir­cling).

EI is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when it is par­tic­u­larly defi­cient. In the book it talks about anger as a state that (to an un­trained per­son) can cause a re­ac­tion be­fore some­one knows that they were an­gry. Make sure to fix that first be­fore mov­ing to higher lev­els of emo­tional man­age­ment.

8. model of ar­gu­ments
http://​bear­lamp.com.au/​a-model-of-ar­gu­ments/​

(see also NVC)

If you view dis­agree­ments or mi­s­un­der­stand­ings as a venn di­a­gram of what you know and what the other per­son knows. You have full rights to make com­ment on any­thing you know but only have limited rights to make com­ment on what the other per­son knows. In­stead you can com­ment on the in­for­ma­tion they have given you. “you said ‘X’, I know Y about what you said ‘X’“. To say X is wrong, is not go­ing to yield progress. In­stead to ac­knowl­edge that they de­scribed ‘X’ and their de­scrip­tion does not make sense to me, or leaves me feel­ing con­fused [6].

9. The ar­gu­ment started earlier

From Gavin: “If I ever find my­self in a po­si­tion of say­ing—well officer, let me ex­plain what hap­pened...“, Some­thing already went wrong well and truly be­fore now.
When you start the jour­ney you will start get­ting to “Aha” mo­ments about where ar­gu­ments start. As you get more and more ex­pe­rience you re­al­ise the ar­gu­ment started well and truly ear­lier than you ever first re­al­ised. When you get re­ally good at it, you can stop and say [6] “I am con­fused” well and truly be­fore a yel­ling match.

10. The sto­ries we tell ourselves

NVC based, Judge­ment model, There is a lot of peo­ple who are think­ing in sto­ries. Re­lated—https://​en.wikipe­dia.org/​wiki/​Fun­da­men­tal_at­tri­bu­tion_er­ror.

Their en­tire ex­is­tence is the story and nar­ra­tive they tell about them­selves (see also Jor­dan Peter­son—maps of mean­ing). The con­stant nar­ra­tive about how “the world hates me” is go­ing to give you a par­tic­u­lar world ex­pe­rience com­pared to the con­stant nar­ra­tive, “I am a lucky per­son”. You see this in gam­blers who are search­ing for “the pre­vailing wind” or “win­ning streaks”.

You also see this in so­cial pres­sure—when peo­ple think and get fix­ated on, “what will peo­ple think of me?“, some­times the so­cial pres­sure does not even have to be there to cause the thoughts and the ac­tions that would be “so­cial pres­sure”.
Sev­eral mod­els of think­ing ad­vo­cate re­mov­ing the story tel­ling in your head to re­lieve the psy­cholog­i­cal pain. See books, “search in­side your­self”, NVC, Gate­less gate­crash­ers, some in­for­ma­tion in the Per­sis­tent Non Sym­bolic Ex­pe­rience Ar­ti­cle.

I am not sure what is the best prac­tice, but mind­ful­ness seems to help as well, since these thoughts are all the­o­ret­i­cal, ground­ing your­self in the con­crete [6a] and ob­serv­ing those thoughts seems to alle­vi­ate the anx­ieties it can cause. But this can ex­plain a lot of peo­ple’s ac­tions (they are tel­ling them­selves a par­tic­u­lar story in their head).

11. Pol­ling your in­ter­nal states

bear­lamp.com.au/​what-does-that-look-like-in-prac­tice/​
[re­lated to 6 NVC]. Any time you are dis­con­nected to what is go­ing on, try ask­ing your­self an in­ter­nal ques­tion of “what is go­ing on?” to con­nect with what is most al­ive in you right now. This might be a feel­ing of bore­dom. It could be any­thing, but if it’s not a good and strong con­nec­tion with what is presently hap­pen­ing you have a chance to fix it. (See also the book “The Charisma myth”)

12. cir­cling (The cir­cling hand­book)

[6 built on NVC] is a prac­tice of liv­ing in the cur­rent and pre­sent ex­pe­rience. You can fo­cus on an­other per­son or fo­cus on your­self. Per­pet­u­ally an­swer­ing the ques­tion of “what is most al­ive in you right now?” and shar­ing that with other peo­ple.

Some ex­am­ples in­clude:I am feel­ing ner­vous shar­ing this ex­pe­rienceI just closed my eyes and put my head back try­ing to think of a good ex­am­ple.I am dis­tracted by the sound of birds be­hind me.I can feel air go­ing past my nos­trils as I think about this ques­tion.

The cre­ators of ci­cling find it a very con­nect­ing ex­pe­rience to ei­ther share what is go­ing on in­side you or to guess at what is go­ing on in­side some­one else and ask if that’s an ac­cu­rate guess. Or to al­ter­nate ex­pe­riences, each shar­ing one and one. or each guess­ing of each other—one and one.

I find it valuable be­cause ev­ery­one can un­der­stand pre­sent ex­pe­rience, and get a glimpse of your cur­rent ex­pe­rience in the pro­cess of shar­ing ex­pe­rience with you. This method can also work as a form of [15] and [7].

13. The game

(From the book The Game) This con­cept re­ceives equal part con­dem­na­tion and praise from var­i­ous par­ties.

The ba­sic con­cept of the game is that life is a game. Speci­fi­cally so­cial in­ter­ac­tions are a game that you can try out. You can iter­ate on and re­peat un­til suc­cess. In the book it fol­lows the jour­ney of a pick up artist as he gen­er­ally dis­re­gards other peo­ple’s agency and works out how to get what he wants (reg­u­larly bed peo­ple) through some stages of prac­tic­ing cer­tain meth­ods of in­ter­ac­tion, and iter­at­ing un­til he sees a lot of suc­cess.

I see a lot of this con­cept at kegan stage 3[18]. Every­thing is about so­cial, and the only thing that mat­ters is so­cial re­la­tion­ships.

Most of the con­dem­na­tions comes from the failure of this model to treat other peo­ple as hu­man, wor­thy of moral weight, thought or any­thing other than to be used to your own pur­poses. If you don’t like de­hu­man­is­ing peo­ple the book can still teach you a lot about so­cial in­ter­ac­tion, and prac­tic­ing to­wards in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ment.

If you feel un­com­fortable with Pick up, you should ex­am­ine that be­lief closely, it’s prob­a­bly to do with feel­ing un­com­fortable with peo­ple us­ing ma­nipu­la­tion to pur­sue sex. That’s fine, there is a lot to learn about so­cial and a lot of so­cial sys­tems be­fore you turn into “liter­ally the devil” for know­ing about it. There are also other so­cial goals other than sex that you can pur­sue.

If you are cau­tious about turn­ing into a jerk—you are prob­a­bly not likely to ever even get close to ac­tions that paint you as a jerk be­cause your filters will stop you. It’s the peo­ple who have no filter on ac­tions that might want to be care­ful—herein lies dark arts and be­ing a jerk. And as much as no one will stop you, no one will re­ally en­joy your pres­ence ei­ther if you are a jerk.

The biggest prob­lem I have with game and game method­ol­ogy is that we all play a one-shot ver­sion. With high stakes of failure. Which means some of the iter­a­tion and hav­ing to fail while you learn how to not be ter­rible—will per­ma­nently dam­age your rep­u­ta­tion. There is no perfect “retry”—a rep­u­ta­tion will fol­low you ba­si­cally to the ends of the earth and back. As much as game will teach you some things, the other mod­els in this list have bet­ter in­for­ma­tion for you and are go­ing to go fur­ther than game.

14. what an apol­ogy must do from Aaron Lazare, M.D.- on apology

1. A valid ac­knowl­edge­ment of the offence that makes clear who the offen­der is and who is the offended. The offen­der must clearly and com­pletely ac­knowl­edge the offence.
2. An effec­tive ex­pla­na­tion, which shows an offence was nei­ther in­ten­tional nor per­sonal, and is un­likely to re­cur.
3. Ex­pres­sions of re­morse, shame, and hu­mil­ity, which show that the offen­der recog­nises the suffer­ing of the offended.
4. A repa­ra­tion of some kind, in the form of a real or sym­bolic com­pen­sa­tion for the offen­der’s trans­gres­sion.
An effec­tive apol­ogy must also satisfy at least one of seven psy­cholog­i­cal needs of an offended per­son.
1. The restora­tion of dig­nity in the offended per­son.
2. The af­fir­ma­tion that both par­ties have shared val­ues and agree that the harm com­mit­ted was wrong.
3. Val­i­da­tion that the vic­tim was not re­spon­si­ble for the offense.
4. The as­surance that the offended party is safe from a re­peat offense.
5. Repar­a­tive jus­tice, which oc­curs when the offended sees the offend­ing party suffer through some type of pun­ish­ment.
6. Repa­ra­tion, when the vic­tim re­ceives some form of com­pen­sa­tion for his pain.
7. A di­alogue that al­lows the offended par­ties to ex­press their feel­ings to­ward the offen­ders and even grieve over their losses.

Th­ese are not my notes from the book but they are par­tic­u­larly valuable when try­ing to con­struct an un­der­stand­ing of apol­o­gis­ing and mak­ing up for mis­deeds. I don’t have them in mem­ory but I know when I need to make a se­ri­ous apol­ogy I can look them up. They fit quite well with [6], but are more spe­cific to apol­ogy and not all in­ter­ac­tions.

15. Emo­tional labour

A rel­a­tively new con­cept. This is roughly the abil­ity to:
I. Model some­one else’s emo­tional state
II. Get it right
III. act on their emo­tional state

For ex­am­ple:
I. I no­tice my part­ners eyes are droopy and they do not ap­pear to be con­cen­trat­ing very well. Is rub­bing eyes and check­ing their watch a lot.
II. I sus­pect they are sleepy
III. I make them a coffee, or I offer to make them coffee. (as a down­graded form I men­tion they look tired and ask if this is the case)

From Er­ra­tio:

Emo­tional labour is es­sen­tially a name for a man­age­rial role in a re­la­tion­ship. This takes on a few differ­ent con­crete forms.

The first is man­age­ment of the house­hold, ap­point­ments, shop­ping, and other as­sorted tasks that are gen­er­ally shared across cou­ples and/​or house­mates. Sweep­ing a floor or cook­ing din­ner is not emo­tional labour, but be­ing the per­son who makes sure that those things are ac­com­plished is. It doesn’t mat­ter whether you get the floor swept by do­ing it your­self, ask­ing your part­ner to do it, firing up a Roomba, or hiring a clean­ing ser­vice; what mat­ters is that you are tak­ing on re­spon­si­bil­ity for mak­ing sure the task is done. This is why peo­ple who say that they would be happy to help with the house­work if you would just tell them what needs do­ing are be­ing a lot less helpful than they think. They’re tak­ing the phys­i­cal labour com­po­nent of the task but ex­plic­itly stick­ing the other per­son with the emo­tional labour com­po­nent.

The sec­ond is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the likes, dis­likes, feel­ings, wants and needs of other peo­ple who you are in a re­la­tion­ship with (and to be clear, it doesn’t have to be a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship). Stereo­typ­i­cal sce­nar­ios that are cov­ered by this kind of emo­tional labour in­clude: the hys­ter­i­cal girlfriend who de­mands that her boyfriend drop ev­ery­thing he’s do­ing to com­fort her, the hus­band who comes home tense and moody af­ter a long day at the office and ex­pects to be asked how his day went and listened to and have val­i­dat­ing noises made at him, notic­ing that the other per­son in a con­ver­sa­tion is un­com­fortable and steer­ing the con­ver­sa­tion to a more pleas­ant topic with­out hav­ing to be asked, helping a con­fused friend talk through their feel­ings about a po­ten­tial or former part­ner, re­mind­ing your spouse that it’s so-and-so’s birth­day and that so-and-so would ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing con­tacted, re­mem­ber­ing birth­days and an­niver­saries and holi­days and con­tact­ing peo­ple and say­ing or do­ing the right things on each of those dates.

This over­laps with [7]. Com­men­tary on this con­cept sug­gest that it’s a habit that women get into do­ing more than men. Mothers are good at pay­ing at­ten­tion to their kids and their needs (as the ma­jor care­giver from early on), and stem­ming from this wives also take care of their hus­bands. While it would not be fair to sug­gest that all wives do any­thing I would be will­ing to con­cede that these are habits that peo­ple get into and are some­times so­cially di­rected by so­ciety.

I am not sure of the over­all value of this model but it’s clear that it has some im­pli­ca­tions about how peo­ple or­ganise them­selves—for bet­ter or worse.

16. Vuln­er­a­bil­ity—Brene brown

https://​www.youtube.com/​watch?v=iCvm­sM­zlF7o
In or­der to form close con­nec­tions with peo­ple a cer­tain level of vuln­er­a­bil­ity is nec­es­sary. This means that you need to share about your­self in or­der to give peo­ple some­thing to con­nect to. In the other di­rec­tion peo­ple need to be a cer­tain level of vuln­er­a­ble to you in or­der to con­nect. If you make sure to be open and en­courag­ing and not judge you will en­able peo­ple to open up to you and con­nect with you.
Some­times be­ing vuln­er­a­ble will get you hurt and you need to be aware of that and not shut down fu­ture ex­pe­riences (con­tinue to be open with peo­ple). I see this par­tic­u­larly in peo­ple who “take time” to get over re­la­tion­ships. Be­ing vuln­er­a­ble is a skill that can be prac­ticed. Vuln­er­a­bil­ity re­placed a lot of my ideas about [13 The game]. And would have given me a lot of ideas of how to con­nect with peo­ple, com­bined with [15] and [12]. (I have not read her books but I ex­pect them to be use­ful)

17. More Than Two (book)

This is com­monly known as the polyamory bible. It doesn’t have to be read as a polyamory book, but in the world of polyamory emo­tional in­tel­li­gence and the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate is the bread and but­ter of ev­ery day in­ter­ac­tions. If you are try­ing to jug­gle two or three re­la­tion­ships and you don’t know how to talk about hard things then you might as well quit now. If you don’t know how to han­dle difficult feel­ings or ex­pe­riences you might as well quit polyamory now.

Read­ing about these skills and what you might gain from the in­sight that polyamorous peo­ple have learnt is prob­a­bly valuable to any­one.

18. Ke­gan stages of development

https://​mean­ing­ness.word­press.com/​2015/​10/​12/​de­vel­op­ing-eth­i­cal-so­cial-and-cog­ni­tive-com­pe­tence/​

Other peo­ple have sum­marised this model bet­ter than me. I won’t do it jus­tice but if I had to be brief about it—there are a num­ber of lev­els that we pass through as we grow from very small to more ma­ture. They in­clude the ba­sic kid level where we only no­tice in­puts and out­puts. Shortly af­ter—when we are sad “the whole world is sad” be­cause we are the whole world. Even­tu­ally we grow out of that and recog­nise other hu­mans and that they have agency. At around teenager we end up car­ing a lot about what other peo­ple think about us. clas­sic teenagers are scared of so­cial pres­sure and say things like, “I would die if she saw me in this out­fit” (while prob­a­bly be­ing hy­per­bolic, there is a bit of se­ri­ous con­cern pre­sent). Even­tu­ally we grow out of that and into sys­tem think­ing (Liber­tar­ian, So­cial­ist, among other tribes). And later above trib­al­ism into more nu­anced va­ri­eties of tribes.

It’s hard to de­scribe and you are bet­ter off read­ing the the­o­ries to get a bet­ter idea. I find the model limited in ap­pli­ca­tion but I ad­mit I need to read more about the the­o­ries to get my head around it bet­ter.


I have a lot more books on the topic to read but I am pub­lish­ing this list be­cause I feel like I have a good han­dle on the whole “how peo­ple work” and, “how re­la­tion­ships work” thing. It’s rare that any­one does any ac­tions that sur­prise me (so­cially) any more. In fact I am get­ting so good at it that I trust my in­tu­ition [11] more than what peo­ple will say some­times.

When some­thing does not make sense I know what ques­tion to ask [6] to get an­swers. Often enough it hap­pens that peo­ple won’t an­swer the first time, this can rep­re­sent peo­ple not feel­ing Safe [1] enough to be vuln­er­a­ble [16]. That’s okay. That rep­re­sents it’s my job to get them to a com­fortable place to open up if I want to get to the an­swers.

I par­tic­u­larly like NVC, Gottman, EL, EI, Vuln­er­a­bil­ity all of them and find my­self us­ing them fort­nightly. Most of these rep­re­sent a book or more of ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial. Don’t think you know them enough to dis­miss them if you have not read the books. If you feel you know them and already em­ploy the model then it’s prob­a­bly not nec­es­sary to look into it fur­ther, but if you are ready to dis­miss any of these mod­els be­cause they “sound bad” or “don’t work” then I would en­courage you to do your home­work and un­der­stand them in­side and out be­fore you re­ject them.

The more mod­els I find the more I find them con­verg­ing on de­scribing re­al­ity. I am find­ing less and less I can say, “this is com­pletely new to me” and more and more, “oh that’s just like [6] and [7]


Meta: this is some­thing around 6000 words and took a day to write ~12 hours. I did this in one sit­ting be­cause ev­ery­thing was already in my head. I am sur­prised I could sit still for this long. (I took breaks for food and a nap but most of to­day was spent at my desk)

Origi­nally posted on my blog: http://​bear­lamp.com.au/​mod­els-of-hu­man-re­la­tion­ships-tools-to-un­der­stand-peo­ple/​

Cross posted to Medium: https://​medium.com/​@re­de­liot/​mod­els-of-hu­man-re­la­tion­ships-tools-to-un­der­stand-peo­ple-fd0ac0ad6369