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Sure, I know how to talk to people!

3.1 Maladaptive and adaptive variants of the model

So far you have been presented with a very simple version of the model. However, to get the maximum advantage from working with it a bit more complexity needs to be added. Birtchnell (2014) developed the basic model of the interpersonal circle to take into account the fact that there are both ‘adaptive’ and ‘maladaptive’ versions of behaviour – an idea that was researched in a policing context by Alison et al. (2013), who developed their model of rapport based on coding many hours of police suspect interviews. The interpersonal circles they developed from this research are shown in Figure 2 below.

Described image
Figure 2 The adaptive and maladaptive interpersonal circles taken from Alison et al.’s (2013) ORBIT model (Observing Rapport Based Interpersonal Techniques) Downloadable version available [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

This more complex version of the model takes into account the fact that there are ways of relating that help to facilitate communication (adaptive behaviours) and those that tend to inhibit communication (maladaptive behaviours). The following video explains this idea further.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4
Skip transcript: Video 4 Adaptive and maladaptive variants of the interpersonal circle (Alison et al., 2013)

Transcript: Video 4 Adaptive and maladaptive variants of the interpersonal circle (Alison et al., 2013)

INSTRUCTOR:
Remember our original circle? Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that some of the behaviours in some areas are always bad, and some of them are always good. For example, is hostile behaviour always bad, and is cooperative behaviour always good? Well, it's not actually that simple, because there are some times when we need to confront someone, for example. And we can actually do that positively.
Now, research that's been done by Birtchnell and then developed by researchers over at Liverpool University, including Laurence Alison, has found that actually, there are two versions of the wheel, one of which is adaptive and one of which is maladaptive. And so there are positive and negative variants of the same sort of behaviour. And they've added a little bit more complexity to the wheel as well to show that there are different areas that you can move around and different behaviours to be found in these areas.
So take, for example, cooperation. You could find that adaptively, someone being cooperative would seem really social, warm, and friendly. And that's a really positive version of it. But there could be a negative version of it, and that could include being over-friendly, obsequious. And that's when you can see the maladaptive version of the same sort of behaviour going on.
In this diagram, which is from Alison's research, you will see the adaptive and maladaptive variants of the wheel, and you will see how the behaviours map onto that same underpinning structure of hostility to cooperation and dominance to submission, but you'll see that the behaviours are identified as being either adaptive or maladaptive versions.
Remember the guy that we met in the car park earlier who was angry? We can see that his behaviour was on the maladaptive wheel. He was hostile, and he was dominant. And we could see that he was judgemental. He was argumentative and competitive. But is it possible that he could have still been on the same place in the circle, but express that adaptively on the adaptive wheel?
Well, it is, because he could have done that by being certain, by being confident, and by being assertive.
MAN:
Excuse me. Is this your car? I'm not happy about the way you've parked it. It stopped me from being able to park my car. And what I've had to do is I've had to go to the paid car park, so I'd really appreciate you moving it. Look, I know it might not have been your fault. You might have had to park it like that because of someone previous. But what are you going to do?
INSTRUCTOR:
The most important thing for you to take away from learning about the adaptive and maladaptive variants of the wheel is that we know that any behaviour on the maladaptive variant of the wheel is catastrophic for rapport and building relationships with other people. So the most important thing is that you eradicate all maladaptive behaviours. We know that as soon as you demonstrate any sort of maladaptive behaviour, wherever it might be, it reduces how much someone wants to talk to us, and it reduces their levels of cooperation. So getting rid of this is absolutely critical. And to develop rapport, you always need to be on the adaptive version of the wheel.
End transcript: Video 4 Adaptive and maladaptive variants of the interpersonal circle (Alison et al., 2013)
Video 4 Adaptive and maladaptive variants of the interpersonal circle (Alison et al., 2013)
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