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Sure, I know how to talk to people!

4.1 Avoiding maladaptive behaviour

Research by Alison et al. (2013) has shown that any movement of an interviewer onto the maladaptive wheel reduces the amount of useful information (also known as the yield) obtained from their conversational partner. In fact, the most important aspect of building rapport is the complete avoidance of maladaptive circle behaviours.

If the person you are interacting with is on the maladaptive wheel, it is quite natural to want to respond with maladaptive behaviours yourself, and your conversational partner might therefore ‘pull’ or ‘push’ you into an area where you may feel very tempted to respond with maladaptive behaviour.

So, given that you know that maladaptive behaviour should be avoided at all costs, how can you achieve this? If you can identify what you are at risk of doing – i.e. what section of the maladaptive wheel you might fall into – but then instead deploy a variant of the same position on the adaptive wheel, then you will be responding adaptively. This idea will be further explained in the examples in the next activity.

Activity 6 Responding to the male neighbour

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

In the following videos, you will see the same neighbours you saw previously but this time the female neighbour is responding. From your observations, would you say that her handling of him is adaptive or maladaptive in the two clips?

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 6
Skip transcript: Video 6 Responding to the neighbour I

Transcript: Video 6 Responding to the neighbour I

WOMAN:
Hiya.
MAN:
Oh, hello.
WOMAN:
Hello, Mrs. Smith that lives at number seven-
MAN:
Yes.
WOMAN:
- she's not very well and she's been taken into hospital.
MAN:
Oh, dear.
WOMAN:
Do you know if someone's looking after her cat? Because I can get access to a key and look after the cat if anybody needs me to.
MAN:
Oh, well, I'm very upset about Mrs. Smith being not well. She's one of the best people on the street. She's a founder member of all sorts of things in the community.
WOMAN:
Oh, yeah.
MAN:
She's a real pillar of this particular street, Mrs. Smith.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
I'll have to have a word with my wife about her. Because we'll have to go and visit her in the hospital.
WOMAN:
Oh, by all means-
MAN:
Because you know what? She's been fantastic with us.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
Yeah, I was on holiday with my wife about five years ago, I think it was.
WOMAN:
Oh, yeah.
MAN:
And there was one of them strikes, you know? I think it was a handling strike or it could have been a pilot strike.
WOMAN:
Right, yes.
MAN:
And she looks after our allotment for us.
WOMAN:
Oh, she did?
MAN:
Nearly lost all our veg. Yeah, she was fantastic, she were. And everything in the greenhouse.
WOMAN:
Oh, bless her.
MAN:
It was a really hot summer, that one.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
And we nearly lost it entirely. And if it hadn't been for her, we'd have had nothing.
WOMAN:
Oh well, if she looked after that, is there any way you might be able to help me out with maybe looking after her cats?
MAN:
Oh, anything for Mrs. Smith, yeah.
WOMAN:
Yeah. I just wondered if you could maybe ask around to see if anybody else was taking care of the cat. Because I'm happy to do it. But I don't want to double up if someone else is doing it. Don't want to step on any toes.
MAN:
What, you want me to ask around?
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
Well, I'll tell you what.
WOMAN:
Yeah?
MAN:
I do know her neighbour. I think her name is Betty. Yeah, well, I'll tell you what then. I'll get a hold of Betty or I'll get my missus to get a hold of her. And Betty can let you in. How about that?
WOMAN:
That'd be great, yeah.
MAN:
Yeah.
WOMAN:
Thank you.
MAN:
All right, well you're at number what?
WOMAN:
I'm at number 11. So if you have a word with Betty, see what's going on.
MAN:
I'll have a word with my missus. She'll get hold of Betty. I'll come at you, number 11.
WOMAN:
That's it. That'd be lovely.
MAN:
Fantastic, no problem.
WOMAN:
Appreciate it. Thank you.
End transcript: Video 6 Responding to the neighbour I
Video 6 Responding to the neighbour I
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Download this video clip.Video player: Video 7
Skip transcript: Video 7 Responding to the neighbour II

Transcript: Video 7 Responding to the neighbour II

MAN:
I'll say, I'm very, very upset to hear that Mrs. Smith isn't well. She is very important in this community, Mrs. Smith. She's one of the pillars right here.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
I'll tell you what, she's been very good to us as well. We were on holiday, in fact, about four years ago, I think it was in Fuerteventura. And we got stuck in one of them- I think it might have been a- it was either a pilot or an handling strike, you know, baggage handling, that kind of thing.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
And we couldn't get back. And the fact is, the only number that my wife had in her diary of anybody of our neighbours was Mrs. Smith. Because, as I said, she's been one of the pillars around here. And my wife gave her a ring.
You know what? She looks after our allotment for 10 days- 10 extra days that we would have been here looking after it, watering all my veg, the carrots and, you know me, my tomatoes, which would have died because it was a very hot summer that year, I'll tell you what.
But she, she looks after the lot of them. And we didn't lose a single thing. Because she- every day, she took herself down there- and she's got a bad hip as well.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
I'm very upset to hear that she's not well. I'll tell you what, my wife is going to be upset as well. She's going have to go around to the hospital and see if she's all right.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
In fact, I'd better do that myself now. Because if I don't let my wife know, she'll be upset that I didn't let her know and that she didn't go down to the hospital. You have to- oh, dear. I'm really upset about this.
I'll tell you what, now then, I better go. But it's been nice talking to you anyway. I've got to go because if I don't tell my wife, she'll be right upset.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
Very nice to talk to you.
WOMAN:
Yeah.
MAN:
Welcome to the road. Look after yourself. Nice to talk to you. Bye-bye, love.
WOMAN:
Oh.
End transcript: Video 7 Responding to the neighbour II
Video 7 Responding to the neighbour II
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Discussion

The behaviour of the female neighbour in Video 6 is likely to develop rapport with the male neighbour, whereas in Video 7 her behaviour is not likely to develop rapport.

PWC_2

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