Monday, June 25, 2007

Can we talk?

When I stumbledupon this article by linguist Deborah Tannen today it brought back not-too-fond memories.

She described a familiar scenario:

A married couple was in a car when the wife turned to her husband and asked, "Would you like to stop for a coffee?"

"No, thanks," he answered truthfully. So they didn't stop. The result? The wife, who had indeed wanted to stop, became annoyed because she felt her preference had not been considered. The husband, seeing his wife was angry, became frustrated. Why didn't she just say what she wanted?

Ms. Tannen goes on to explain the cultural norms of men vs. women and how to bridge the gap by understanding the cultural nuances and compensating in one's relationships. But to read her analysis of the scenario, you would have to know all about a person to be able to predict how they will react to what you say. If that's the case, how would you ever get to know him/her well enough? You'd always be getting into trouble!

In Scientology there is the concept of the ARC triangle.

To quote the Scientology Handbook:

The ARC triangle is called a triangle because it has three related points. The first of these points is affinity. The second of these points is reality. The third of these points and the most important is communication.

These three factors are related. By affinity we mean emotional response. We mean the feeling of affection or lack of it, of emotion or misemotion (irrational or inappropriate emotion) connected with life. By reality we mean the solid objects, the real things of life. By communication we mean an interchange of ideas between two terminals (persons who can receive, relay or send a communication). Without affinity there is no reality or communication. Without reality there is no affinity or communication. Without communication there is neither affinity nor reality.

Ms. Tannen concentrates on the "Reality" corner -- what molds a woman's response patterns, what cultural factors influence a man's reactions?

That's a real problem. Because how do you ever really know someone?

What I was so impressed with the Scientology religion when I checked it out, was that it contained so many simple things you could learn and use, and each time I tried them out they worked. One such tool is this ARC triangle. In various Scientology books, L. Ron Hubbard lays out how you can use this triangle to improve any relationship.

You can even avoid the inevitable "men and women think differently" problem. You can sort of bypass the differences and forge a really cool relationship.

Do you know anyone you'd like to get along better with? At home? At work?

Is there someone you would like to get close to but can't figure out how?

Is there someone who's making your life totally miserable, and even through he/she seems like a pretty decent person, boy can you not stand being around him/her?

This kind of thing brings like down from an enjoyable experience to an annoying, frustrating, hateful, frightening or even sorrowful trial.

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could spend a couple of days learning how to master using this triangle and then be able to systematically repair all the relationship problems that are making life a drag?

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