OK Compass [September 17 2017]

In this post, I will give you a tool you can use in any social interaction with others - even over the phone or video calls. I call it the "OK Compass" and it derives from Transactional Analysis. I developed it based on Franklin H. Ernst's OK Corral (or Life Positions) from 1971. To read more about the OK Corral (and Life Positions), please read my writing on it here. The picture below can give you a compresensive summary.

Note: colors have no indications, they just support the visual comprehension

Ernst classifies the social encounters of people by using a grid with four segments. Here I am just mentioning their names (codes), as I will be using them in my Compass too - and as you might expect it will concentrate on the nonverbal behaviors of these four dynamic social operations.

One of the four major classes of outcomes of our social encounters is coded as GOW. It comes from the Get-On-With term. It is for the social encounter when our personal experience with that particular person can be described as I-Am-OK and You-Are-OK. The second one is called GRO. In the Get-Rid-Of situation we experience that I-Am-OK and You-Are-Not-OK. GAF is for Get-Away-From experience where we wish to be far from the other person as we see I-Am-Not-OK and You-Are-OK. Finally GNW is for Get-Nowhere-With when I-Am-Not-OK and You-Are-Not-OK.

Now that you know what GOW, GRO, GAF and GNW mean, we can take the next step. I have picked and now will show you 10 nonverbal cues from my Multimodal Messaging Inventory (that consists of more than 3000 hierarchically categorized cues) database. Perceive them from 1 to 10 and decide whether the subject is experiencing GOW, GRO, GAF or GNW. You may want to write down your answer on a piece of paper. At the bottom of the page you will find a key to the 10 cues (based on my interpretation that may be different from yours). Note: a cue may have more positions (e.g. first GRO then GOW) as the situation evolves.

CUE #1: Is the lady in GOW, GRO, GAF or GNW?

Source: http://www.moviesoundscentral.com/

CUE #2: Where are the two ladies in this situation?

Note: I muted the video so that you can concentrate on the nonverbals better. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBvysuewIOs

CUE #3: Where is the woman and where is the man?

Source: https://media.giphy.com/media/d4bnaXg8xGgxXnTq/giphy.gif

CUE #4: Where are these people?

Source: http://omgstory.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/OMGVIS0503-31.jpg

CUE #5: Where is the girl whose face we can see?

Source: https://heyheyhelena.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/fakesmile.gif

CUE #6: Where is the little girl?

Source: http://www.moviesoundscentral.com/

CUE #7: Where is this guy?

Source: http://38.media.tumblr.com/af5f7f8a47a9811fe879619c849a168f/tumblr_nstxt4kB4q1rf112no1_500.gif

CUE #8: Where are they?

Source: http://www.moviesoundscentral.com/

CUE #9: Where are these two guys?

Source: http://p.fod4.com/p/media/c801bb960a/sbXakTSO6zRQ8HgIXEzQ_giphy.gif

CUE 10: Where are they?

Source: http://www.moviesoundscentral.com/

You can practice it further by having a look around where you are or you will be in the next couple of hours today. Observe the social interactions and using your knowledge and intuition guess what the interacting persons are expressing in the light of the Okayness. Please read on and later you can go through the 10 situations again.

Let me give you some typical cues of the four positions (that may even last a fraction of a second) so that you can have sharp senses to decode them. (Note: these are just possible cues. People widely can vary on how they express these positions and different people can use the same cues to express different positions.) Imagine the following situation now. One of your team members, Mike, comes to you and asks: "Hey boss, can you please quickly help? Sign this paper here, please. I want to sell my car and I need a witness now." Now see for some possible answers from your side both from the verbal and the nonverbal levels:

Source: http://www.televendasecobranca.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Venda-clausula-que-estipula-data-para-cancelamento-de-contrato-e-abusiva-televendas-cobranca.jpg


Words: "Sure, where can I sign it, Mike?"

Proxemics: You stand up and walk to Mike, decreasing the distance (movement)

Voice: higher pitch, energetic

Gestures: putting hands sideways into an open position

Head movements: nodding

Eyes: looking at the person and the paper

Face: smiling, brows up, you may blink more to see clearly your target

Matching: turning torso towards to other person

Posture: open

Physiological responses: dilated pupils, longer inhaling

Haptics: you tend to touch the person's shoulder or give a handshake

Source: https://ak8.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/2903497/thumb/1.jpg?i10c=img.resize(height:160)


Words: "I am on the phone now. Can you please leave now, thanks."

Proxemics: You turn around and show your back on your swivel chair, increasing the distance

Voice: it can be loud and commanding or silent and soft depending on the context

Gestures: showing palm (stopping, blocking) or clenching fist (frustration, anger)

Head movements: shaking left and right

Eyes: keeping eye contact to show dominance (power gaze)

Face: frown may occur, tensed mouth and eyes, lines on forehead

Matching: out of sync with the other person

Posture: closed, blocking

Physiological responses: smaller pupils, sweating, red or white face may be observed

Haptics: very unlikely - mainly when the situation is violent

Source: http://pad1.whstatic.com/images/thumb/8/8c/Apologize-to-a-Friend-Step-5-Version-2.jpg/aid615465-v4-728px-Apologize-to-a-Friend-Step-5-Version-2.jpg


Words: "I am sorry, I am already late from an important meeting. Maybe next time?"

Proxemics: You are physically leaving the room, increasing the distance between your target

Voice: Higher pitch, fast

Gestures: putting two hands up in the air (defence)

Head movements: turning head up and then towards the door

Eyes: avoiding eye contact

Face: may be smiling (social smile, not a felt smile), widely opened eyes, inner lip roll can occur

Matching: turning towards the exit

Posture: blocking with hands or objects

Physiological responses: face may be red, faster breathing, sweating

Haptics: touching the shoulder or upper arm to excuse or handshake to say goodbye

Source: https://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/desperate/images/9/95/813_Julie_Susan.png/revision/latest?cb=20120614085149


Words: "Look, I won't sign anything without reading it through and knowing what it exactly is." (From your perspective the situation: I am not OK to sign it with this condition and You are not OK with my answer as you need it urgently so together, we are getting nowhere)

Proxemics: You are leaning back on your chair, increasing the distance

Voice: deeper, sighs, emphasizing certain words (especially "nothing", "never" or "all the time")

Gestures: putting hands into the pockets, crossing hands or touching head

Head movements: shaking left and right

Eyes: keeping eye contact then looking away

Face: brows down or up, some lines may appear on forehead, pressed lips or lips part

Matching: out of sync with the other

Posture: closed, rigid, powerlessly bent forward

Physiological responses: small pupils, longer blinks or keeping the eyes closed

Haptics: chance is very slight to touch the other person

Source: https://dontdateus.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/new-girl-nick-uncomfortable.gif

Now, here is my very simple tool, the OK Compass. Once you become a good reader of GOW, GRO, GAF and GNW, (I guess once you look at the guy above you immediately detect his GAF) ask the four questions below whenever you enter a social interaction with someone:

1 - What messages am I sending on where I am with this person? (GOW, GRO, GAF or GNW)

2 - What messages is the person sending on where the person is with me? (GOW, GRO, GAF or GNW)

3 - Where do I want us to be? (GOW, GRO, GAF or GNW)

4 - What messages do I need to send now to get there?

Download the one pager here.

Isn't it simple? It is simple but not easy because it requires focus, concentration, awareness - energy, to put it simple. We tend to enter the interactions with others during a day in an autopilot mode because we have a lot to concentrate on - the deadlines, budget, bills, contracts, vendors, challenges from the facility or technology. But believe me, it is worth the effort. Why? Because you will realize that after some practice it can become your second nature and you can cultivate great relationships with others (considering you also wish to arrive to GOW with them), you can have a good time just by practicing it and by being seen as an OK person/leader/parent/neighbour etc. others will trust you more. And in our social interactions with others everything is built on trust. See for yourself.


CUE #1

Notes: the lady sounds powerful and satisfied with her own situation (I am OK) and at the same time we can hear the punishing anger pointed to her targets (who are not OK). Without knowing the context we have the feeling that she can master, manage and control the situation while her targets are in a one down (Victim) position. That is why I think this is a GRO position.

CUE #2

Notes: the two ladies at the mall start from the GRO position and end up in GNW. I think this is the pattern because first they are smiling (satisfied with their way) while the other one is not really OK what she is experiencing. In the end none of them is really happy and as we can see they can really not go (get) anywhere - at least with their cars.

CUE #3

Notes: The woman is showing open posture (nothing is blocking her vulnerable belly area), keeping eye contact (even giving a once over - i.e. a measuring look at the man from top to toe), and she is anchored like a rock with her feet (no movement). This looks a confident I-Am-OK position while she is sending a "leading question" to the man (who looks uncomfortable due to this). So I think the woman is in the GRO position. The man looks like a child when talking to a school principal (indication of the Conformed Child ego state). He shops eye contact, looking down, turning head, blocking his vulnerable frontal areas with his hat and moving his right leg (these are indicators of what we call Adaptors). These all tell me that he is in GAF. Note: we see only 5 seconds from the situation. It may go to other life positions very quickly - away from GRO and GAF. You can use your intuition when coding the observed behaviors to PREDICT what might be happening next or what you can do to arrive in the position where you think it is constructive. This is what the OK Compass is all about!

CUE #4

Notes: They are very close to one another (in the intimate zone that is 0-46 cm according to Edward Hall), they are using Regulator gestures (clapping) to express respect and recognition, we can see eye contact and it looks they are all OK both with themselves and the others. It says "Victory! You made it! We are happy for you!" This is why I believe they are in GOW.

CUE #5

Notes: We can see a fake smile on her face with traces of contempt (observe here lip corners as they are moving more sideways rather than upwards. Her face shows dimples and furrows, and her eyes are tensed along with these. The onset of her smile is very fast - indicating that this is a deliberate expression. In contempt we find the "I am better than you" element. Without knowing more about this context, I would say this is a GRO position.

CUE #6

Notes: I think it is a clear GOW. It is expressed verbally ("I like you"), which in itself should not indicate that it is an OK-OK position but the nonverbals are congruent with the words. Energetic voice and higher pitch are present.

CUE #7

Notes: We can see the horizontal lines on his forehead, his brows (especially the outer areas) slightly go up, his upper lids become narrow so we can see more sclera (the white part of his eyes), the nasolabial furrows (lines between his nose and lip corners) appear, his lips disappear (which is an indication of "Something is wrong here"), his lip corners turn down and his chin is raising while his whole body is "freezing" (even his gaze). These are discomfort cues. He may experience some shame in the situation and this is why I guess it is GAF. (I guess this guy wishes to be some place else)

CUE #8

Notes: We can hear disappointment. If we know nothing about the context and we can observe only this, I would say it is a GNW. There must have been previous actions that were taken in other positions than GNW - as they got somewhere. From this short piece we only know the lady is disappointed and the man is admitting (maybe with some guilt maybe not). We can imagine how the physical (as well as the intimate) distance is increasing between them.

CUE #9

Notes: It is very clear. The scientist is GRO (just see this power gaze and how slowly the brows are coming down) and the other guy is in GAF (he is increasing distance "backing off"). I guess he would even do the same without being asked to back off - as the nonverbals are so expressive and intensive from the scientist's side.

CUE #10

Notes: I think we can detect each position in this dialog. First, when the man asks if the other one has an appointment, we can see a GOW. Potentially they can be resources for each other. And depending on the answer, we can interpret the next moment of the situation. As the answer is an indecisive "err", we immediately move to the GRO from the janitor's perspective and to the GAF from the man's perspective. The situation goes to the GNW as they cannot do business or use the other as a resource to get by in the here-and-now. Next time (on Tuesday) when they meet, it can be a GOW again.

If you have any questions, comments or stories, share them with me via email. We can publish them here.

(c) NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION COACH - www.nonverbalcommunicationcoach.com


by Bali Polyanki


(c) All Rights Reserved 2017