Paradigms of Interdependence
July 3, 1997
Victories in our personal development precede our public victories. Independence is the foundation of interdependence.
The most important ingredient we put into any relationship is not what we say or do, but who we are. If our words and actions come from superficial human relations techniques (the Personality Ethic) rather than from our inner core (the Character Ethic), others will sense that duplicity.
Interdependence opens worlds of possibilities for deep, meaningful associations, greater productivity, service, contribution and growth. It also exposes us to greater pain.
In order to receive the benefits of interdependence, we need to create and care for the relationships that are the source of the benefits.
The Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor describing relationships and the P/PC (Production versus building Production Capacity) balance for interdependence. It describes how trust is built on a relationship.
Positive behaviors are deposits building a reserve. Negative behaviors are withdrawals. A high reserve balance results in higher tolerance for our mistakes and more open communication.
There are six major deposits we can make to the emotional bank account:
- Understanding the individual. An individual's values determine what actions will result in a deposit or a withdrawal for that individual. To build a relationship, you must learn what is important to the other person and make it as important to you as the other person is to you. Understand others deeply as individuals and then treat them in terms of that understanding.
- Attend to the little things, which are the big things in relationships.
- Keep commitments. Breaking a promise is a major withdrawal.
- Clarify expectations. The cause of almost all relationship difficulties is rooted in ambiguous, conflicting expectations around roles and goals. Making an investment of time and effort up front saves time, effort and a major withdrawal later.
- Show personal integrity. A lack of integrity can undermine almost any effort to create a high trust reserve. Honesty requires conforming our words to reality. Integrity requires conforming reality to our words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.
The key to the many is the one, especially the one that tests the patience and good humor of the many. How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.
- Apologize sincerely when you make a withdrawal. Sincere apologies are deposits, but repeated apologies are interpreted as insincere, resulting in withdrawals.
The Laws of Love and the Laws of Life:
In giving unconditional love, we help others feel secure, safe and validated, which gives them the emotional security to do the same for others. Making conditions for our approval creates defensiveness and insecurity, breaking down the bonds of interdependence.
Dag Hammerskjold, past Secretary General of the United Nations, said, "It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual, than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses." It is at the one-on-one level that we live the primary laws of love and life.
Problems should be recognized as PC opportunities, a chance to build up emotional bank accounts. These are opportunities to deeply understand and help others, which applies to all personal relationships in the family, with workers and with customers.
The paradigm of the emotional bank account is the foundation of the habits of public victory required to avoid using personality techniques and to establish character ethics as the natural outgrowth of a secure, giving character.
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