Note: This chapter is from 'The Road to Clear", Level 0.
"Good Roads and Fair
ARC TRIANGLE 1. it is called a triangle because it has three related points: affinity, reality and the most important, communication. Without affinity there is no reality or communication. Without reality or some agreement, affinity and communication are absent. Without communication, there can be no affinity or reality. It is only necessary to improve one corner of this very valuable triangle in Scn in order to improve the remaining two corners. The easiest corner to improve is communication: improving one’s ability to communicate raises at the same time his affinity for others and life, as well as expands the scope of his agreements. 2. this triangle is a symbol of the fact that affinity, reality, and communication act together as a whole entity and that one of them cannot be considered unless the other two are also taken into account.
When we are seeking to repair a relationship between a PTS person and an Antagonistic Terminal we are dealing in repairing the ARC between the two parties. We will soon find there are always two sides to a problem. More situations seem to get their power from the inability to handle ARC than from anything else. Misunderstandings are piling up between the parties. Blame takes the place of responsibility. To straighten this out is a skill that can be taught. The TRs Course can be a great help. It should however be pointed out that Auditors TRs are not the solve-all tool in real life. They are especially designed for the auditing situation. The auditor is trained to be an observer and controller of the session and has as his objective to have the pc being in-session. It's all about the pc and the pc's case. Life is a little different. Here we have two terminals exchanging views on an equal footing.
The basic skills of confronting, getting a message across, signal that one understood what was said and handling originations are however universal techniques. Checking out how a PTS handles the communication cycle with the AT is therefore of high interest and is a good starting point. The trick is to find something the PTS, assisted by you, can do something about. There is always an element in the PTS of doing self in. The PTS should be coached with bullbaiting-type TR-drills to handle the exact situations where the communication breaks down.
There are of course relationships that are totally destructive and it is a foolish action to try to repair them. If that is the case the best advice is to have the PTS move on and cease to have any contact or reduce the contact to an absolute minimum in a business-like manner. If the PTS has a tiger in the living room it is a foolish action to try to teach the PTS how to live with it. It is not going to turn the tiger into a house cat. The PTS has to get rid of the tiger or move out; this is called to disconnect. If it is a family member or another close associate this should be a last resort, however. Before the Ethics Officer recommend a disconnect in any situation a handling should be attempted and only if any and all approaches seem impossible should you go for disconnect.
When you observe dysfunctional relationships, do it from the viewpoint of what is going on with the communication and ARC. You will find the parties are unwilling to hear each other out; they are unwilling to acknowledge the fact that they heard what was said. They withhold important information, invalidate and blame each other, etc., etc. It is very good advice to observe the communication cycle itself before you get all wound up in the significance of opinions, attitudes, likes and dislikes. Observe the ARC and the communication as you would if you didn't understand the language being used. You can have the PTS call the AT on the telephone and simply listen in and make notes. No absolute need to hear both ends of the conversation. If possible, that is of course to prefer, but you just want to get a picture of the situation as it exists before getting into any handling.
The communication formula is in its simplest form is: Cause - Distance - Effect. You want to enable the PTS from just being effect to be willing and able to be cause.
When we talk two-way communication we have Cause - Distance - Effect, say from AT to PTS.
Then the cause point shifts and you have Cause - Distance - Effect from PTS to AT. Establishing a proper two-way communication is a first and all-important step in resolving any conflict. Communication is said to be the universal solvent. But before communication can take place the persons involved have to learn to respects the mechanics of communication. The simplest approach is to observe what prevents the communication formula from being applied. Acknowledgment is a way of controlling communication. Does the PTS acknowledge at all or just react? Is the PTS willing to be Cause in a communication? Does the PTS speak up from time to time so it can be understood?
Doing this simple analysis and repair what you find can sometimes do the whole trick - and if not, it is still a good starting point.
Good Roads and Fair Weather
There is a simple way to repair the ARC between two estranged terminals. This remedy is called "Good Roads and Fair Weather". This method is an application of the ARC triangle. It is best illustrated by an example:
This is a true story. A young girl had run away from home as the relationship with her parents had become so bad so the parents wouldn't talk to her. The girl had taken a job in an office. She seemed quite unhappy and depressed and she wasn't doing well at her job.
An auditor was asked by the office manager to see if he could help the situation. The auditor gave the young girl an interview and found out, that the parents were very angry with her and refused any communication with her.
They were upset with her because she had refused to follow the career as a concert pianist that they had envisioned for her. In fact, such a career was beyond her ability.
They had spent a lot of money on her studies, that had come to nothing. So they "washed their hands" of her and this unhappy situation had forced her to run away from home to live in another city.
Since the break they hadn't communicated with her at all, but from people in her home neighborhood she knew they were disappointed and felt bitter about her. Since she had been closely attached to her parents the break and separation had a deep effect upon her. She couldn't do her work properly. Her failure at work was jamming the communication lines of the office and the office manager was concerned. She liked the girl, but her poor performance had to change or she (the office manager) had to fire her.
Usually the girl would simply have been fired, but help was hard to find and the office manager had a better idea. She asked the auditor to help.
The auditor knew his A-R-C Triangle well and he knew exactly what to do. It seems very simple, but it had a magical effect.
He simply told her she had to write her parents - whether she would get a reply or not. And so she did.
Naturally she didn't get a reply. Why didn't the parents reply? It is simple. The girl had disobeyed them and had refused their advice and control and they had cut off all contact. To the parents she wasn't very real at this point. They more or less denied her existence as far as they were concerned. They had actually tried to 'forget her' and erase her from their lives due to their big disappointment. Therefore their emotions had come to a point of apathy towards her. They had been unable to control her and this failure made them apathetic in regards to her. It had also made her unreal to them.
Actually, as they had started her on a career she didn't have the talent for, she couldn't have been that real to them to begin with.
The auditor had her write a letter. This letter was "good roads and fair weather". Just simple, good news about herself. She said she was working in another city, that the weather was fine there and she was doing all right; she hoped they were both well and sent them her love.
The auditor had instructed her carefully not to mention any of the events before leaving home or anything else that could open old wounds.
The affinity, the A, of the letter was quite high. The C was of course there.
What the auditor really wanted to accomplish at this point was to establish the R, the reality. He wanted them to get used to the idea that she actually existed; that she lived in another city and took care of her own life.
She wrote several letters like that without getting an answer. The auditor instructed her to just stay with the "good roads and fair weather" subjects and tone.
He was simply trying to establish the R. Since she in her earlier life had depended so much on her parents the present situation had caused her to see her whole existence as unreal and flimsy.
After about four letters along these lines, each letter carefully written in an optimistic and positive tone with little attention to not getting any reply, there suddenly was a letter back from her mother. The mother expressed anger, not against her daughter but against one of the girl's old friends. The auditor instructed her carefully not to express anger in her reply, but instead write in pleasant surprise how happy she was to hear from her mother.
After her letter two replies came; one from her father and one from her mother. This time they were both affectionate and they hoped the daughter was doing well.
The girl naturally wanted to reply to these positive letters. The auditor of course let her do so. Without his intervention her replies would however have been very propitiative. He instructed her to send two happy letters, one to each of her parents, and just be lighthearted and positive.
In this way the auditor kept repairing the break between the daughter and her parents. He was using communication and the ARC triangle.
When this relationship was well repaired the girl felt a lot better about herself and doing her job. The parents had now understood that she had chosen a job she could manage; and having their blessing (reality) meant that she could take pride in doing it (affinity). As a result her willingness to communicate with her colleagues and her tasks rose markedly and she started to become a real asset to the office.
So we see the ARC triangle and the tone scale in action in these examples and in just about any situation in life.
What we saw the auditor do, in the example with the young girl, was to control her communication to her parents, knowing well that he had to pay close attention to the two other points of the ARC triangle to make it successful.
Blame and ARC
One sure way to destroy a relationship is to blame the other party relentlessly and avoid taking any responsibility. "You did so and so to me!" is expressing blame. The PTS person is electing the other person as being cause and self to be the victim or effect. It is a sure way to make any relationship go sour. Teach the PTS person to use sentences with "I". "I got upset when you said that", may seem much the same but there is really a world of difference. Suddenly the PTS person is admitting a little bit of cause and a real conversation can take place. By having the PTS person state what effect the AT person's communication or action created on him or her the communication formula, cause - distance - effect, is put in its proper place and the power of communication is allowed to start working. There may still be a long way to go but every journey starts with one first step.