This week I want to devote my blog to a model we frequently use ‘Logical Levels’. I loved this model as soon as I was introduced to it and it can be applied in so many different ways and resonates with us all.
It is a way of describing and understanding relationships and consequently how they are broken, maintained and developed. I was proud to deliver this model for the first time this week! I am a footballer so as with everything in life it helps me to relate things to experiences I have had with my sport, which has been a huge part of my life for the last 16 years.
Here we have a triangle with 5 levels. The higher up the triangle you get the higher your level of rapport with someone and therefore your level of trust and influence with each other is. The bottom level is ‘environment‘, which anyone you have ever had any contact with falls into. When my team holds open trials, at first I begin to judge each player based solely on appearance. For example, I may take a look at a girl who is much smaller than me and instantly write her off as not being any good. Or similarly, I may not like the kit she is wearing and therefore not make an effort to get to know any more about her. We make assumptions based on stereotypes and past experiences. You might have this type of rapport with someone who works in your building; somebody you say hi to every morning but know nothing more about.
The next level up is ‘behaviour’; this is where we judge people on how they act. For example, if I was against spitting on the pitch and that girl started spitting all over the place I would again write her off because of her behaviour. Similarly, perhaps in your office you have someone very loud and this behaviour may be distracting to you and therefore you may dislike them based on that behaviour if you don’t know any more about them.
Moving up another level to ‘skills and capabilities’, this is where rapport can again either grow or crumble. I may have had little respect for this small player in a pink and yellow spotted kit who spits, until she runs past me beating me down the wing and scores a beautiful goal. She then has my attention, admiration and a level of respect because of her skill. Our rapport grows and I become more likely to want to be associated with her; I become more interested and I am more likely to approach her afterwards and become ‘curious’. At work this is ideally the lowest level of rapport we want to have with people. It is important that we can value and appreciate the work of our colleagues, managers and teams and that they value the standard of our work also.
The fourth level up is where rapport can really start to flourish and we see great relationships; this level is ‘values and beliefs’. I firmly believe that footballers should have great sportsmanship. If this player I have started to develop a friendship with badly fouls another player and injures her without showing any remorse, our rapport would instantly be broken and I wouldn’t want to connect with her any further. However, if she ran back over to that player on the ground, apologised, asked if she was ok and offered her hand to get her back on her feet I would hold this in high regard because our values would line up. At this stage our rapport would increase and our relationship would improve as well as having a higher level of trust and influence of and over each other. We can have this type of rapport with people at work based on whether or not we connect with their work ethic or team spirit for example. The more specific the belief or value, the better the rapport. These are likely to be the work friends we have who we see outside our working environment. A broad value could be honesty, whereas as more specific belief could be that aliens are real.
The highest level of rapport is ‘Identification’. We have many traits, qualities and characteristics that make us individual and unique, but when we find others with the same identities as us we are able to reach that ultimate level of rapport and have a great relationship. To keep with my original example; that player and I both identify as being sportsmanlike footballers, I valued her care, respect and fairness as well as her skill as a player. I would say ‘I am a fair footballer’, this is an identity statement. Two people working for a care service may have developed the highest level of rapport after connecting with the value of equality and the belief that everybody deserves and has the right to the same thorough level of care. An identity statement for them could be ‘I am respectful of everyone I care for’.
It is important to recognise that each level of the triangle ‘trumps’ the level below and that we will have relationships at all levels, which may continuously go up and down. It can be invaluable to recognise where you are at in terms of different relationships because this can determine how you communicate. It is not possible to reach the highest level with everyone, but we all have the ability to try and increase rapport and move up the triangle and we can do this by becoming more interested.
Begin to become aware of how you talk to people and dig deeper to find out more and see if you can connect on a higher level. Become curious and ask questions such as ‘What do you find interesting about that?’ Next time you walk into your place of work, notice the contact you have with people and the conversations that unfold. See if you can relate each relationship to a level of the triangle and identify how you could move up to at least ‘skills and capabilities’. Instead of coming in on a Monday morning and asking ‘Good weekend?’ ask ‘what did you do at the weekend?’ The first is a closed question and requires a simple yes or no answer whereas the second is an open question, it’s asking for more and they have the option of how much they want to tell you. Start building relationships and see how this affects your work life!
Written by Maimee Morris – Intern