Man soll den anderen so nehmen er ist, nicht so wie man ihn haben moechte. Bari
(See a person as he is, not the way that you want him to be. Bari)
If you visit Munich, you could take a pleasant walk along
Prinzregentenstrasse, and stroll around the beautiful Englischer Garten.
I walked there with a German friend, discussing cross-cultural modeling.
After stating each concept, my friend would ask: “Alles ist klar?”
This very common German question means: “Is that clear?”
Clarity seems especially important to German people, who often check whether
their communications are understood. German people, perhaps more than most
cultures, seem to maximize clarity.
Although clarity may seem desirable in most communication, many people avoid it, finding relief
in philosophical, negative, conflicting and abstract statements. Some people
rarely offer clear communication. “Alles ist nicht so klar!”
You can develop your clarity in appropriate relationships.
For example, you treat your intimate partner as a human being whom you value
and with whom you want a long-term intimate relationship. If you habitually
communicate to your partner as if to a child, or as a parent, or as a colleague
- confusion will follow – even if both of you accept or even enjoy these roles.
Here is a useful hierarchy of relationship types, with the
approximate minimum ages when most people can begin fulfilling the relationship
responsibilities of that type, and example responsibilities.
||Example Relationship Skills|
||Express emotions, learn to walk, talk, use toilet|
||Group play, patience, sharing, delay gratification |
||Keep promises, complete tasks, trust others|
||Active co-operation, accept group rules, modesty|
||Create and maintain intimacy and an intimate “space”|
||Create supportive home, develop child raising skills|
||Community participation, action and support|
||Humanitarian / Environmental / Systemic activities
You can gain both clarity and skills during each relationship
experience - and use these skills to prepare for subsequent relationships.
If you get stuck in one relationship experience – you may be unable to
advance until you master the appropriate skills.
If you cannot maintain a friendship, you are unlikely to be
accepted into a healthy team or a long-term partnership.
Instead you may be only tolerated. Motivation alone is insufficient. Skills are needed.
If you are “stuck” at some age in this relationship
hierarchy, you may appear immature and feel emotionally age
regressed – mature people may say that you act
childishly. Common causes of relationship stuckness include
emotional incest and
trauma. Events such as
parental separation and
parental alienation can have traumatic consequences.
Dynamic & Frozen Relationships
Your relationships are dynamic if you are developing on many
levels, while testing and pushing your limits. Dynamic relationships allow freedom,
growth and inter-dependence. Or your relationships may be called frozen if you
avoid challenges and development. Frozen relationships are often attempts to cling
to old beliefs and decisions. People in frozen relationships often avoid clarity
and prefer foggy communication. Communicating with such people can be like talking
to foggy walls.
It is useful to recognize the abstractions you use while communicating.
If communication is arbitrarily divided into levels of abstraction,
(based on the genius of Dr Gregory Bateson) the following hierarchy
results, with example questions that you can use to increase clarity.
||What is it? What does it do?
||Who does it belong to? How can we use it?|
||What am I feeling?
||What do I want you to feel? How do you respond to me?
How do you express emotions?|
||What do I express? What do I respond to?
||How do you respond to me? What are your wishes?|
|Actions & Consequences
||What am I doing? What do I want?
||How do you respond to my actions? How do I respond to your wishes?|
||What am I capable of? What else can I do?
||Who does this influence? Who should do this? |
||What is true? What is possible? What is right?
||How can we express our beliefs? How do we respond to
each other’s beliefs? How do we decide what is right?|
||What is important? What is worthwhile?
|| What values do we share? Whose values are most important?|
|| Who am I? What are my qualities?
|| Who are you? What are our relationship responsibilities?|
|| What am I part of? What is my role?
|| How close or distant are we? How can we co-operate together?|
|Planet / Humanity
|| Why am I here? What is my purpose?
|| How do our lives affect this planet? What can we do to
help our planet survive?|
|Creation / Cosmos
|| What is the purpose of creation?
|| What are our relationships with unmanifest creation and
with a manifest universe?|
These are examples of how you may clarify concepts and presuppositions
within your relationships. (Beware that the above questions may irritate people who, for
whatever reason, avoid clarity or who prefer to live in confusion.)
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