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Leary’s rose – say it with flowers?
8 different behaviours
In his model, there are two different axes: First you have the horizontal axis, which tells us something about the relationship with others (opposed versus together). Together means people can work together as a team, opposed signifies they don’t agree with each other. Then you have the vertical axis, where you see the attitude towards each other (above versus below). Above stands for dominant behaviour ( “I determine what you have to do”), below implies submissive behaviour (“I will do what you ask me”)
There are 8 different behaviours that thus arise:
- Above together – Leading
This behaviour shows itself as giving advice, influencing someone, suggesting something, arranging things for someone else.
Strength: It can be functional when you’re an expert and you need to share knowledge or insights or when there’s a need for an efficient meeting.
Pitfall: It’s rather dysfunctional when the other person needs to make a decision for himself, or when other people want to express their ideas as well.
- Above together – Helping
It’s helping the other person, comforting someone, being friendly, offering a service, …
Strength: It can be functional when the other person isn’t feeling well, or a safe environment is needed to improve the collaboration.
Pitfall: It can be dysfunctional when the other personal is already criticising you, or when no decision is being made by the group.
- Below together – co-operative
Co-operative behaviour can be agreeing with the other person, supporting him/her, admiring the other person’s input, justifying the other person’s behaviour, etc.
Strength: It can be functional when you agree with the other person, if you want to get something done from the other person or if calmness is important in a group.
Pitfall: It’s rather dysfunctional when you need to manage a meeting or a team, when the other person is annoying you or when you need to solve a conflict.
- Below together – dependent
Asking for advice, explaining your problem to someone else, asking for permission, … those are all examples of dependent behaviour.
Strength: This can be functional when you’re stuck and don’t know how to solve something.
Pitfall: If you want to have an impact on other people or if you’re angry, this behaviour is dysfunctional.
- Above opposed – aggressive
Aggressive behaviour shows itself as punishing someone, frightening another person, interrupting or insulting them, …
Strength: It can be functional when the other person is hurting or damaging you, or when someone is making group work impossible.
Pitfall: It’s rather dysfunctional when someone didn’t make a mistake (or not on purpose), or when someone is used as a scapegoat.
- Above opposed – competitive
Competitive behaviour can be bragging about yourself, being competitive and jealous towards the other person, …
Strength: It can be functional if you want to gain prestige, or need others to trust on your expertise.
Pitfall: If you want to have an equal relationship with the other person, this is dysfunctional behaviour.
- Below opposed – withdrawn
Expressing self-blame, breaking yourself down or discoursing the other from doing something with you is withdrawn behaviour.
Strength: When you failed the other person or feel guilty, this behaviour can be functional.
Pitfall: If you want to be part of the group or if you want to interest the other person, this behaviour is dysfunctional.
- Below opposed – defiant
Defiant behaviour can be distrusting the other person, ignoring positive feelings of the other, pointing to the difference between yourself and the other, being sarcastic or cynical, etc.
Strength: This behaviour is functional when the other isn’t genuine or when someone wants to avoid conflict at all costs.
Pitfall: It’s rather dysfunctional when there’s a need for a safe environment – for example to talk about a personal problem.
Leary found that people tend to react with the complementary behaviour towards ‘above’ or ‘below’ behaviour. Unconsciously we tent do respond submissively to above behaviour: when someone tells us what to do, we’re inclined to do so. This works the other way around as well: when someone shows submissive behaviour, we tend to take them by the hand and guide them (we tell them what to do). Alternatively, opposed behaviour provokes opposed behaviour as well: when the other person is negative or critical, we tend to be more negative and critical ourselves. When the other person is working together, this often stimulates together behaviour.