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Roles People Play

Roles People Play

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Published by Dr John Kenworthy
Everyday we play different roles with different people. Some of the roles we choose are appropriate and help build or strengthen the relationship, others though undermine it or ourselves.
Everyday we play different roles with different people. Some of the roles we choose are appropriate and help build or strengthen the relationship, others though undermine it or ourselves.

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Published by: Dr John Kenworthy on May 31, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Roles people play
And what do you do?
Everyone plays a number of roles in theirrelationships with others. The essence of personality,according to Raimundo, is the sum of the roles I play.
Dr. John Kenworthy4/1/2010www.developingleadershipstyle.com.sg
"And what do you do?"
How many times have you been asked this question? How many timeshave you asked it?My guess is more than once or twice.Whenanswering this question, most people respond with their job title or their job function:I'm a banker, I'm the CEO, I'm a teacher. Or they launch into their 'elevator pitch'. We defineourselves often by the major role we play in life. And you know that you are much more thanyour job: I'm a CEO, husband, lover, father, child, brother, skier, scuba diver, teacher,sleeper, trainer,coach, friend, driver, passenger, dog-walker, saxophonist, cook, customer,eater, cleaner, golfer, author, writer, musician, listener, talker, leader, manager, accountant,salesman, communicator, website builder... and that's just the more positive ones today. AmI good at all these? Not all, and not always. There are days when my golf, for example, isfluent and near perfect, today was not one of those days. Today, I was a "shank it in thewater, find every bunker, slice it out of bounds" golfer.
Normal role development 
Everyone plays a number of roles in theirrelationships with others. The essence ofpersonality, according toRaimundo, is thesum of the roles I play.As a leader, the way we relate to other peopleis through a role. The role we play must becomplimentary, and must include a commonlink. My effectiveness as a leader isdependent on the effectiveness of therelationship which is the link between theroles. It is the "power" between me and another.When we have two complementary roles relating toeach other, a link is formed and is the channel ofinteraction; enabling the role to mature and growstronger.Thestrength of the link depends on the roles we playand each time we relate through the link, the role we are playing is developed. Some of theroles we play are poorly developed, some are well-developed. The good news is that we candevelop poorly developedroles and so improve the effectiveness of our relating.Our most developed roles are usually so because we have experience with a moreestablished and complementary role. A good Father-Son relationship develops a string sonrole and, in recognition of the strong role model, transfers to a strong father role later in lifeas well as strengthening the role of the father.
Roles we play can be Constructive, Fragmenting or Ambivalent.
Constructive role development is a normal expectation as we exercise our roles in acomplementary relationship.In the ideal relationship,both parties have well-developed roles and are relaxed with each otherallowing and enabling the link to be formed and thepower of the relationship (and hence the rolesthemselves) develop.Think about the well developed roles you exercise and on any roles that you think are poorlydeveloped. What enables (or restricts) your development of these roles?
The effect of anxiety on personal space and role development 
Everyone has a space around them that we perceive belongs to us,our personal space. I'msure that you have met someone who, you felt, was a little too close. Perhaps someone whoput their face close to yours and made you feel intimidated or scared? I recall a salesmeeting witha particular CEO who talked to me with his face 2 inches from mine and kept itthere the entire time. I honestly thought he was going to head butt me.When we are relaxed and atpeace, our personal spacecontracts, other people can becloser, both physically andemotionally.When we are fearful or anxious, our personal space expands.So when that CEO came in physically close, I became tense and needed even more spacethan normally, making the situationtenser.When our personal space expands through fear or anxiety, thiscan interrupt or distort the operation of a particular role. In myown example above, my normal, well-developed sales role wassmothered and I wanted to run from the meeting.A (sadly) frequent example we hear from clients is the expansion of personal space aftercoming back home exhausted each evening from work and being unable to relate to a son ordaughter as a parent. As a parent, I have three possible responses.
Attack or withdraw (a reptilian, knee-jerk, emotional response).
Adopt a better developed role such as that of teacher or manager.
Adopt a pseudo role.Whichever the choice, the parent role does not develop if it is not used.
Role Deficiencies
Pseudo Roles
A pseudo role is a copied, non-integrated role. It does notdevelop because it is not fuelled by the actions, emotions,feelings and thinking associated with "normal" role. Suchroles are not part of the "self" or "ego", they are roles weadopt to cope with certain situations.

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