Friday, May 18, 2012

How Do You See People? Part 1

I find I don't have much time to post anything that requires much thought or work, but recently STG gave a training on some pretty interesting concepts on how we interact with people by The Arbinger Instiute and I wanted to post my notes.

The Arbinger Institute was formed by a pretty genius philosopher who figured out how people interact and how when we see people in the wrong way we actually invite the behavior from them that we're trying to avoid.  It's pretty complicated material (humans are pretty complicated), but they've done an awesome job dumbing it down and labeling it in such a way that we can understand it. 

How we see people - our way of being 

At the core of what Arbinger teaches is how we see people, or our "way of being".  It's important to understand that our way of being is different than our behavior.  We can behave in the same way no matter our way of being, but our way of being might affect how our behavior is received.  

There are two ways of being, or how we see people. 
  1. We see someone as a person, we value their humanity as equal to our own, or we're out of the box.
  2. We see someone as an object, we value their humanity differently than ours, or we're in the box. When we're in the box we see that other person as:
    • A Vehicle; a means to an end
    • An Obstacle
    • Irrelevant
 Strangely enough, we put ourselves in the box towards people all of the time. Even towards those we consider the closest.  

How we get in the box - self-betrayal and justification

Getting in the box towards someone can be incredibly easy if we're not on the lookout for the red flags.  All it really involves is a desire that we don't act on.  For example, let's say I'm reading a pretty interesting book and I hear my wife doing the dishes in the kitchen.  As I hear her doing the dishes I get this idea, "I should go help with the dishes".  If I decide not to act on that desire I put myself in the box and then I need to justify my choice.  By justify  mean I need to make out my wife to be a horrible person so that i feel I am justified in not helping her.  I'll try to rationalize by telling myself that she has all these horrible traits  (none of which are true in my wife's case) while I have all these good ones and that's why I don't need to help.  

It sounds kind of absurd when you first hear about it, but then you start seeing this pattern all over the place -In yourself, in others- and that's when you start seeing how crazy it really is.  But not quite as crazy when you get two people (or groups) in the box towards each other. 

Effects of the box - collusion

Collusion is a cycle of selfish views and actions and is what happens when two people are in the box towards each other.  It follows a they do, I see, I do, they see, they do pattern.  Here's another example on a larger scale between the MAFIAA and The Pirate Bay.  
  1. TPD do: The Pirate Bay allows users easy access to illegally copied music and movies. 
  2. MAFIAA see: The MAFIAA sees an organization with blatant disregard for the hard work of their clients. They must be free-loaders and inherently evil and lazy, etc, etc
  3. MAFIAA do:  The MAFIAA contacts governments and courts to shut down the pirate bay.
  4. TPD see:   The MAFIAA is trying to censor the web.  They must be against sharing knowledge, etc, etc
  5. TPD do: The Pirate Bay moves all their servers to a neutral country where other governments can't shut them down.
  6. and the cycle continues...

Spreading the box - allies

When we find ourselves in the box towards someone we feel we need to be justified no matter the consequences, even sacrificing our own well-being and happiness.  Not only do we feed our justification by the other person's actions, we try to convince others that we're right.  An artist might say to a friend, "Look how much money The Pirate Bay is stealing from us!"  all the while The Pirate Bay fans are crying, "The MAFIAA is going to shut down the web!" As we gather allies to our cause the box continues to grow. This is how wars are started. 

Some people's boxes are thicker than others and some can be dangerous, but in every case they prevent us from a meaningful relationship with that person or group.  So the question remains, how do we get out of the box?  I'll write about that in part 2, or you can always go to The Arbinger Institute and learn this all for yourself (which I would suggest doing anyways).

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