Saturday, July 14, 2012

The 6 Phases To Building Authentic Relationship (& 5 Implications For Your Life)

In general, here's the process, in sequence from 1-6, that people go through in building authentic community:

  1. Knowledge  about each other
  1. Experiences (do stuff together)
  1. Opinions
  1. Feelings
  1. Failures/Struggles
  1. Successes/Big Wins

1. In most cultures (at least the Western cultures I know), the most risky thing to do, drawing the most judgment and displeasure, is to truly share your victories--excitedly and unvarnished with self-deprecating comments. Saying you've messed up is usually more socially acceptable than saying you were awesome. Certain competitive environments, like cutthroat corporations, may have these levels reversed, though. If you think for a moment, you'll know whether failures or successes is more risky in your setting.

2. The process is a progression of adding a new layer without dropping what you've been doing. For example, you keep learning more facts about each other (level 1) while you're doing things together (level 2) that include conversations about opinions (level 3). If you want to open up and share feelings, you don't stop doing everything else--you add that element to what you're already doing.

3. Generally speaking, people need mutual validation at each level before being willing to move to the next (higher) level. Skipping a level is much riskier. Yes, there are individuals who will make a leap with you, but it's extremely rare to find an entire group who is willing to leap like that. One step at a time.

4. It may take a lot of time for the group to be comfortable with one level. This isn't a six week process--one level a week. In fact, in another post, I explained that it usually takes six months with a new group.

5. It's  not a steady, evenly-spaced out process. While it may take an average of six months, it's not usually one month spent working on each level. In my experience, it's generally slow at the start, fast in the middle, and slow for the last two levels.

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