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  • Writer's pictureLarry Williamson

Relationships: Don't Over Complicate It

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

I have said many times that we, as human beings, have a tendency to complicate things far more than they need to be. We can see this all around us on most any day. Why do we take something like building positive relationships and make it so complicated? In some ways I believe we are taught this.

Orson Welles made his famous movie, Citizen Kane, when he was only 26. When asked how he wrote such a masterpiece at such a young age he replied, "Ignorance, ignorance, sheer ignorance—you know there's no confidence to equal it. It's only when you know something about a profession, I think, that you're timid or careful."

Welles's comments reflect the concept of goupthink, a psychological phenomenon researched by Irving Janes, a research psychologist from Yale University. Basically, the more you are exposed to other people's ideas, the more you are impacted by them.

Wikipedia states: Groupthink requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the "ingroup" produces an "illusion of invulnerability" (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the "in group" significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the "outgroup").

Studying I/O Psychology in graduate school, the more research and statistics we provided with our work (for good reason), the more favorable our work was viewed. Providing all the right data helped make us feel part of the "in group," less vulnerable maybe. This method of work production (habit), I carried forth in my daily life.

Me personally, I enjoy the research and the data collection. My own challenge was that when I got out of the academic environment, in my daily conversations, I felt I had to back up anything I said with detailed data to support it. More times than not, the only thing I managed to do was complicate things more than they needed to be, and I bored the person I was speaking to. Maybe it was my insecurities and I felt less vulnerable if I backed up my views with supporting data.

On a side note: There will always be an important need for research and data. For example if I am preparing to have a medical procedure done, I want my doctor to be familiar with all the research on the procedure and have all the latest data available! Of course, there are many more examples.

I'll admit, I love having conversations with people that have and use good common sense. They cut through the chase and come up with some of the most rational solutions there are. They make it simple. It is from the lessons of these individuals I have learned to express more things (I'll always be working on this) in a simpler manner.

I received two comments last week that were very important to me. One came from a client when after our discussion about an important situation to him he stated; "When I look at this now its just common sense." He went on to say that until we went through our process , he just hadn't seen it. To me, we took something potentially complicated and made it simple. Success!

The other comment came from my son, Damon, when he finished reviewing a blog of mine prior to posting. He wrote:

"I really like this, as always! These are great to read as daily reminders. Reading this before the start of the day is a great way to set the tone!"

He did not say it peaked his interest and now he needed to go out and read more articles or blogs on the subject in order to understand it more. What I "heard" from this was that it was a simple daily reminder, something easily read and understood that helped him set the tone for his day. Success!

In building our relationships, be it with our spouse, our children, or our co-workers, the same simple guidelines apply. We don't have to make it complicated. In fact, the simpler we make it, the easier it is to understand, and the easier it is to apply … with practice.

This is the reason I write about building relationships the way I do. If as a reader, you like the research and the data, let me know and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction. If your objective is to just create better relationships, then I say don't over complicate it. Treating other people right is not complicated, but it does require awareness and a commitment to do the right thing.

If you want reminders on how to make this simple, go back and read my earlier blogs and continue to read them, two each week, on the simple steps you can take to create the relationships you really want!

As always, I would love to hear from you. Will you share what you get out of this blog?

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