Understand Others

Trying to understand other people can sometimes feel like a real challenge. Although other people can be inspiring, amazing and wonderful, we often also perceive them as being frustrating, threatening or just annoying. The fundamental step in understanding other people is first to understand yourself because until you become more aware of your own biases and assumptions, then your perceptions of other people may not always be as rational and objective as you might like to think.

By using the Archegyre as a consistent frame of reference, and being more aware of any biases and assumptions that you may be introducing, you can create much clearer and more effective relationships between yourself and other people. The Archegyre provides you with a dynamic process working across the boundaries between you and other people so that you can become far more aware of what you are both feeding forward and feeding back across your interpersonal boundaries.

The conventional way of trying to understand other people is to typecast them as stereotypes in some way, to view them as a simplistically defined set of characteristic behaviours. Rather than using these simplistic behaviours as a starting point for further explorations of the connections between you and the mutual understanding that you can achieve, these characteristic behaviours become idealised characteristics that it is assumed other people should always conform to. The challenge with taking that approach, however, is that there is often a great divergence between idealised and actual behaviours. And always trying to understand another person as a simplistic set of idealised behaviours, rather than as an actual human being, means that you may find it really challenging to understand them at more than just a superficial level.

Making the assumption that another person is just a set of simplistic behaviours usually results in a mechanistic approach to trying to understand them and even though you are trying to be as objective as possible, you might start to treat them a bit like an object, a bit like a human machine. Although that may sound a bit inhuman, we can hear it in the language that is commonly used when we are trying to understand another person. We want to know ‘What makes them tick’ as if they were a clock or some sort of consistently acting machine. Or we may hear ourselves saying that we want to ‘size someone up’ to find out how well they might conform to a specific set of personality dimensions.

One of the fundamental insights that working with Archegyral processes provides is that working with human nature is not about trying to objectify it or codify it but to realise that it is a process, a flow across the boundaries between inner and outer worlds. Rather than trying to understand another human being by simplistically attempting to find out ‘what makes them tick’, it is far more powerful to use the Archegyre as a framework for feeding forward and feeding back questions and conversations that help you to understand what excites another person, what inspires them, what motivates them, and the real nature of the connection between you both. Rather than trying to form your perceptions of another person by simply judging them or critiquing them, it is far more effective to engage in that feedforward – feedback flow across the boundaries between you, so that you can both form a deeper mutual understanding.