‘Businesses are just people’ is a principle shared by many. Of course, this is not to belittle people: the principle states that people form the most important component of a business. (Incidentally, this is a values-neutral statement: people may be a business’s greatest asset, but they can also be its greatest liability.)
And it applies equally to any group of people engaged in a common endeavour. Forgive me if I use the term ‘business’ to cover all such groups.
It’s important to maintain this principle at the forefront of our attention because a disproportionate amount of resources and time are given to process and procedure, to the nuts and bolts, rather than to the people who are making it all happen.
But businesses are nothing if not transactional. Not just the commercial transaction between supplier and customer, but also the interpersonal communications between the people in the business and the client needed to ensure the right goods or services are supplied; the management and leadership needed in the business—and the teamwork which results; the interpersonal communication between people in the business and people in their supplier businesses, in other businesses (for example at networking events) and other stakeholders.
So, a more useful principle might be that ‘businesses are just the relationships between people’—and between groups of people: directors and staff, marketing team and production, “the business” and “clients”.
To address the relationships between people at work, a suitable model is needed. There is no research and no evidence that human beings form relationships differently in different spheres of life: private, work, sport, religion and so on. As the only models about interpersonal relationships have been created from work done with private relationships, emotional intelligence at work uses such a model.
It’s true that private relationships are felt more intensely than work ones (on the whole!) but that doesn’t mean the process isn’t the same. Indeed, describing work relationships in a flamboyant, almost exaggerated, manner has the benefit of ensuring that people will more easily see what’s going on in such a relationship. If the relationship between two people at work is drifting into a dead zone, then seeing that for what it is will help them move forward, whereas considering the relationship as ‘business as usual, but less productive’ will make it hard to see where there might be a problem and will result in this state lasting potentially a long time.
It’s also true that some people at work introduce an element of privacy, of intimacy, into their relationship which is not necessary for the success of the business, but just emphasises that relationships are just relationships, whatever the contexts and, in fact, can’t be pigeonholed into particular contexts (private, work, sport, religion and so on).
That relationships change through time is obvious to everyone who has ever been in a relationship (if only as child and care giver). That you might be able to define certain states of a relationship and say that any given relationship goes through these states through time would probably be accepted by many people.
The benefit of the model we use is that it is able:
At this point it is worth recalling what George Box, a British statistician, said. “All models are wrong, but some models are useful.” In other words, relationships do not switch between five precisely defined stages, but it is useful to think that they do because, by thinking this way, one can learn about what is going on for each of the people in the relationship.
Because the model runs on a time line—this stage, followed by this stage, then this stage, and so on—if one encounters two people who demonstrate they are at a given stage of their relationship, it is possible to test the applicability of the model by asking, “did your relationship in the past conform to the predictions of the model about earlier stages of the relationship?” If they can see that it did, they are likely to see that it could be possible to attain the future stages the model predicts.
The model is empirical: it was developed, formulated and enhanced using the experience of many people in relationships. It confirms that the people being researched (and the many more people who have used the model as a tool to help them move forward) tend to form relationships in broadly similar ways. This makes it reasonable to assume that other people will also find the model useful in helping them move through their relationship. And so it proves. This is the most important aspect of the model, in our opinion.
In addition to being validated by extensive testing in the field (it is well over thirty years old and has been used by hundreds, if not thousands, of practitioners with their clients), the model is fully explicable by main stream psychological theory.
About this model
This model was originally developed by Susan Campbell from original research (see The couple’s journey, 1980).
It was substantially developed by Chuck Spezzano and integrated into his Psychology of vision model of personal development. Chuck’s main contribution was to beef up stage 3 from Campbell’s stability (“the illusion of peace”) to dead zone, and to distinguish the various steps within the power struggle and dead zone stages. The best writeup is in Wholeheartedness (Chuck Spezzano, 2000, pp 25-47), from which this presentation has been derived.
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2013 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 20 august 2013 . image: Free images
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