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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reclassify your relationship skills

Many of our skills, such as programming, can be learnt by one's individual efforts, understanding the topic in details, simulating different situations to test one's ability, correcting oneself on the drawing table and then be able to practice it in a 'live situation'. I call them off-line skills.

Relationship skill is however an online skill, because it can only be learnt by practicing it in 'live situations'. It is a product of using/misusing our Type 1 mind. Relationship skill is the derivative of Type 1 mind.

And because it is online skill that is derived from the way you use Type 1 mind, you already have a developed ( or undeveloped) relationship skill that you have unconsciously learnt from your parents, friends, and even movies, serials and stories. If your relationship skill is effective in managing your relations with others, you are lucky. In earlier days, the chances of developing this skill was high because we and our fathers/grandfathers had lot of opportunities in developing and fine-tuning our relationship skills.

If we lived in joint family, we could depend on many siblings and relatives to teach us the basics of relationship skill such as listen fully before you talk, or understand the unique drivers of a person to relate with someone, use different kind of powers such as persuasive power, ownership power or positional power. If we lived in small towns ( which had not Walmartised@ itself to only include transactional relationships) , we had siblings and families that exposed us to variety of relationships with unequal power, incompatible habits, irreconcilable beliefs, and diametrically opposite attitudes.

Our children are not so lucky. They confront the worst possible situations that inhibit ( and sometimes actively discourage) development of relationship skill. We have nuclear families with fixed pattern of relating. Sometimes siblings are also not present to provide enough differences. TV and computers have further reduced the 'interaction-time'. Friends are only from a specific 'strata' that pose only one kind of pattern.

If you are from one of these families, you have a big mountain to climb, because you are not only very immature in relating with people, but - more importantly - you are not even aware that you have a poorly developed relationship skill. As relationship skill is a product of Type 1 mind, none of your relations will tell you something is wrong with you because you will 'find' friends who are 'like you', you will work in 'familiar situations' with 'known bosses', you will convert your 'children' in your mirror-image. Type 1 mind manages to find 'coherency' in everything.

You find something is wrong in your relationship skill only
  • when you cannot 'execute' big ideas because you cannot 'collaborate' with someone
  • when you are comfortable only with people who listen to you all the time
  • when your daughter grows young and wants to 'pursue' her own interests which are different than yours.
  • when you will find something 'wrong' in others all the time
  • when you are uncomfortable with your 'aloneness' 
  • when you seek 'validation' from others for whatever you do
  • when you keep on aping someone else's goals and dreams throughout your life
Because Type 1 mind manages relationship unconsciously, it never lets you 'detect' the relationship problem unless you consciously deploy Type 2 mind. But because Type 1 mind often manages with its unconscious package of heuristics, intuitive judgements, and 'rapid calculations', it is often difficult to undo this 'unconscious package' later in life. The longer one takes in detecting, the more difficult it is to undo the package of Type 1 mind.

Often corporate executives who succeed in 'corporate life' fall in a different trap. They conflate relationship skill with 'social relationship skill'. As they become adept at managing one kind of relation: the social relation (where the exchange between two people is transactional, either of money or in kind in 'return' of something) they feel confident in dealing with people. They become overconfident (overconfidence is also a trait of Type 1 mind) and often use the same 'style of relating' with their friends and family, which are dense relations. It is these dense relations which enable us to challenge our beliefs, force us to confront reality and find meaning in our lives. Because they get stuck up in 'social relation', they never get an opportunity to utilise dense relations ! Only big upheavals ( such as big financial loss, loss of a job, or deaths of near ones) in their life can challenge them to question their belief and heuristic set! Biographers then tell us that people need failures to succeed in life!

We all know that 'relationship skill' is critical to do anything in life: be it negotiating the pay rise, collaborating with colleagues or finding satisfaction in one's life. Unfortunately, Type 1 mind does not know that relationship skill is classified in three types: Social ( transactional), dense-social (collaborative) and dense ( with spouse and close friends). Because we never understand this distinction, we never exploit its fullest potential, nor do we train the Type 1 mind with appropriate heuristics and cues.

We shall see later how the relationship skill of 'dense-social' and 'dense' types can be learnt by altering Type 1 mind and reconfiguring the 'complementary relation' between Type 1 and 2 mind.

@Walmartised living: This is the term used by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer in The Gardens of democracy to define a state in which because people 'lose' touch with each other because of overreliance on laws and rules to govern every day interaction. People also lose their ability to judge each other and trust. 

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