Richard Maun – Psychological Distance – How Close Are You?

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Psychological Distance – How Close Are You?

16 March 2014

When things are going wrong between two people we can stop and think about the ‘contract’ that exists between them.

Contracting (setting up mutual agreements) is a key part of Transactional Analysis and I’m always a bit surprised that it isn’t taught more widely, eg in leadership workshops or as part of business management education. If we have a good contract with someone, then we both have clear sight of the expectations and outcomes and what is required of us.

However, if we tweak the contract without telling the other party we start to drift backwards and away from our place of agreement. This drifting isn’t necessarily physical, but it is emotional. We can label this drift as psychological distance and the more we have, the greater the chance is that the contract will fail, leading to a breakdown in communications.

So, if we have a tricky situation with someone we need to re-establish contact with them and reset the contract. What has changed? What do we need to discuss? What do we need to disclose? What is causing us frustration?

Clear contracting is about open dialogue, sharing issues and concerns and listening closely to the other party.

So this week, don’t be distant – make an effort to be close. It’s up to you to make the first move!

Next week: Careful Whispers


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