Tom Andrews, Ph.D. Specializing in Mindfulness Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

Interpersonal Skills Diagram

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This diagram roughly points to how one person's behavior sometimes invites a corresponding response, as in  dancing--sometimes you can't tell who is leading. For example, providing for someone might invite them to trust that you will provide. Being critical or blaming might invite some form of defensiveness. One constructive interpersonal move can be to act in an independent/positive way even when the other person is in the controlling/negative mode, at least inviting a more positive response. So, for example, a criticism might be met with acknowledgment, rather than defensiveness. We already do that sometimes with friends and sometimes with customers. 

Romantic relationships often begin as independent/positive, with lots of mutual disclosure and acknowledgment. Then the two partners begin to take care of one another and trusting in that. Sometimes that leads to expectations that can be disappointed, leading to blame and defense. This negative/control dance is so unpleasant it is often avoided or escaped, with one or both being more independent, yet negative--neglecting, ignoring, etc. Generally, the challenge is to recover the positive side of the space, especially the independent/positive dance, unilaterally if need be. This positive approach might not work, but the negative surely won't.

 

                                     Independent / Independent

                                                              |

                            Neglect / Ignore     |      Disclose / Acknowledge

                                                              |        

             Negative -------------------------|--------------------------- Positive

                                                              |

                           Blame / Defend       |      Provide / Trust in

                                                              |

                                        Controlling / Controlled