Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dr. Thomas Gordon - A Credo for Relationships

The first book I ever read about people skills was Dr. Thomas Gordon's 1970 book P.E.T., which stands for Parent Effectiveness Training. In 1978, he published L.E.T. (Leader Effectiveness Training).

Everything he said over 30 years ago remains valid and useful today, even though dozens of books have been written about people skills since. At the core of all his courses and books is what he called his "Credo" for relationships. It brilliantly summarizes the assumptions that underlie effective human relations. Taken from the book, L.E.T., it's worth repeating here.

You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep. Yet each of us is a separate person with unique needs and the right to meet those needs.

When you are having problems meeting your needs, I will try to listen with genuine acceptance. In order to facilitate your finding your own solutions instead of depending on mine, I also will try to respect your right to choose your own beliefs and develop your own values, different though they may be from mine.

However, when your behavior interferes with what I must do to get my own needs met, I will tell you openly and honestly how your behavior affects me, trusting that you respect my needs and feelings enough to try to change the behavior that is unacceptable to me. Also, whenever some behavior of mine is unacceptable to you, I hope you will tell me openly and honestly so I can try to change my behavior.

At those times when we find that either of us cannot change to meet the other's needs, let us acknowledge that we have a conflict and commit ourselves to resolve each conflict without either of us resorting to the use of power or authority to win at the expense of the other's losing. I respect your needs, but I also must respect my own. So let us always strive to search for a solution that will be acceptable to both of us. Your needs will be met, and so will mine - neither will lose, both will win.

In this way, you can continue to develop as a person through satisfying your needs, and so can I. Thus, ours can be a healthy relationship in which both of us can strive to become what we are capable of being. And we can continue to relate to each other with mutual respect, love, and peace.

Imagine how wonderful it would be for this credo to become the foundation for a marriage, a parent-child relationship, a friendship, a co-worker relationship...

Dr. Gordon passed away in 2002. If you're interested in being more effective in relationships, his books are still in print, and I enthusiastically encourage you to check them out. (Disclaimer - I have no affiliate connection with Dr. Gordon's organization or the publisher and receive no compensation for endorsing his books.)

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .


Sarcastic Bastard said...

This makes a lot of sense to me, Denny. Thank you for posting it.

Anonymous said...

I plan to share this with my spouse and then ask if we can discuss it. I am sure our conversation will be different than it has been in the past...for the better. Thank you.