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Getting the balance right in your relationships

By Julie Standfield

What you need from others, and what others need from you in relationships can be a hard balancing act. Firo gives us insights into the three core elements of openness, inclusion and control.  We all have scores in each area, but the chances of us having the same scores as each other are so remote it virtually never happens. So what happens when someone close to you has different needs to your own? Whose needs win?

In our personal relationships (between spouses and off-spring), we are much more likely to give in to the other person’s needs, much more often, in order to maintain harmony and strengthen the bonds of the relationship. The other party probably doesn’t even realise how much we habitually give up what we want in favour of what we imagine they need, even if we sometimes get it wrong. It stands to reason then, that when we do feel that we’ve given too much and we need to make the other person aware, the emotions tend to run deeper than similar situations with less crucial relationships, and the resulting arguments and accusations are more loaded with frustration and annoyance, and are usually more explosive!

Understanding your spouse or children’s Firo scores, and how they compare against yours, can help you to identify potential areas of conflict. Once you have an understanding of what might trigger arguments, feelings of anger, resentment or hurt, you then have the ability to avoid setting these feelings off, or at least go into dangerous situations understanding the possible impact and reactions you are likely to face.  Think about your last disagreement with your significant other – were any of the issues linked in any way to too much or a lack of  openness, control or inclusion? Whilst not all arguments are about these elements, they tend to crop up much more often than we might first think.

The same theory applies to your working relationships, especially those with your immediate team mates and manager.  Although the bonds in these relationships are much more superficial, the emotions are (probably) less deep and the conflict behaviours less raw, the differences in your scores (needs) and your colleagues scores can give you invaluable information about what people need from their relationships at work.  Perhaps more importantly, it also gives you the chance to tell people what you need and to have a fighting chance of sometimes getting these needs met. Imagine that?!

Rather than wait for a conflict to emerge, consider using the Firo instrument to elicit this information from your team, and create a safe and comfortable environment for you to all discuss what the scores mean for you with each other. This way, you can plan ahead for success rather than tread carefully waiting for issues to resolve.

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