Almost every problem at work boils down to the quality of relationships.  This can range from the relationships we have with shareholders and clients to the relationships we have with our line manager, colleagues and those who report to us, but it also includes our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with our work.

It could even be said that “The level of success we achieve at work is in direct proportion to the quality of our relationships”.  There are four cylinders that drive inspired working relationships – are your relationships firing on all four?

As a lifelong student of communication and relationships, I’m constantly reminded that the more I learn, the more I discover just how little I know.  However, it is useful to have some tools that help us understand ourselves and others.  The most useful one I have come across is the Language and Behaviour Profile or ‘LAB Profile’.  For me the LAB Profile is fascinating because it allows you to notice what fundamentally motivates people at a below-conscious level.  This means you can develop remarkable empathy and understanding of why people behave the way they do in a given context, and even predict how they will behave in certain situations.  This ultimately enables you to elegantly influence them.

Walking the talk
I was recently invited to give a talk about Relationships at a local Business NLP Group and whilst I normally focus my professional attention on relationships at work and in a business context, I was asked to speak about how my understanding of the LAB Profile has impacted on my relationship with my wife Pam. 

When I mentioned the talk to Pam and asked her how learning about the LAB Profile improved our relationship she said that it had completely transformed it!  As someone who grew up in the US she tends to avoid understatements.  Because Pam is also a trainer (of PhD level statistical methodology and questionnaire design) she suggested we do the talk together.

Back in 2005 Pam was so impressed with the insights we were having that she did a 3-day training with Shelle Rose Charvet so she could better understand and identify her own motivational patterns and what motivates others.  Shelle is in high demand all over the world as a specialist consultant and trainer because she is recognised as the global expert on the LAB Profile.  She has recently released an iPhone App “The Husband Motivator” a playful way to get more of what you want from your partner!
Shelle likes to say that you can learn more about someone in 20 minutes with the LAB Profile than in 20 years of marriage.  Well, Pam and I are only married for 17 years (we got married within 10 months of meeting each other!) and we can still laugh a lot when we discover the various patterns we are running.

It’s not personal
Maybe that’s what it’s all about – being able to smile and accept that we all have particular below-conscious preferences.  It’s recognising that we are simply motivated to behave in specific ways because of our life experiences and the unique way in which we see the world.  It’s not personal – it’s just an unconscious pattern driving the way we act.  Knowing this can help to remove any unhelpful judgements and open up a conversation about what behaviour works and what hinders getting the results we want.

When we were planning the talk together it became clear that I was looking at the big picture and jumping around the key themes and topics we wanted to discuss.  I was in a brainstorming creative mode.  Pam on the other hand was all about structure and timing.  She wanted to know how were we going to structure the talk, what were we going to say when, which exercises were we going to set and she was timing it all right down to the minute.

That immediately created lots of opportunity for friction and judgements, not only about what we were going to say but how we were going to say it.  We quickly identified that Pam was being motivated by getting the right ‘Procedure’ and I was being motivated by all the ‘Options’ of what we could talk about.  Combined with this I was looking at the ‘big picture’ while she was zooming down into the ‘details’.

Classic business conflict
This is a classic conflict in business.  People doing a job are often focussed on the details of getting every step of the task done correctly, then a Director comes by and discusses some new ideas.  The Director gets offended by either the lack of engagement with their ideas or by all the comments about how it’s not possible because the way things are structured.  This can lead to unhelpful judgements on both sides:

“They are always so negative”
“He hasn’t a clue about our jobs”

Does any of that sound familiar?

Playing to strengths
Pam and I were able to chuckle at the different ways we were approaching the task and by removing any judgement or frustration we gave each other space and permission to be ourselves and use that energy to get a great result.  I helped put a framework together and Pam structured the exercises.  I was able to identify the key patterns to discuss and Pam made sure we timed everything just right.

The fundamental structure of the talk was about creating inspired relationships and that in order for an intimate relationship to flourish over time it needs to be ‘firing on all four cylinders’.

The four cylinders we identified were Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. 
Physical = Activities, sex and social environment.
Emotional = Empathic compatibility
Mental = Intellectual compatibility  
Spiritual = Mutual understanding of values and religious / spiritual compatibility

There are certain motivational patterns that can have a big impact on each of these ‘cylinders’ and whether the relationship will work in the long term or not.  Generally a relationship needs compatibility on at least two of these to survive any amount of time, with three it can last a lifetime and with all four you are in a truly inspired relationship.

Are your business relationships firing on all four cylinders?
In business the ‘four cylinders’ can equate follows:
• Physical = all the non verbal communication and body language stuff
• Emotional = the ability to empathise and understand how someone else feels
• Mental = being articulate and intellectually stimulated 
• Purpose (I find this more appropriate in a business context) = clarity of shared values and the purpose of the relationship.

Consider this:
 On a scale of 1 – 10 how well do you score on the above with the important people in your working life? 
o Which levels score highest and lowest?
 What are the scores with the people you find it challenging to deal with?
o Which levels score highest and lowest?

Accessing more details
After giving the talk for the business group I wrote a short EBook about the key principles (and the 4 cylinders) mentioned above.  In order to read it in accessible bite-sized chunks I divided it into a number of articles.  Each article focusses on one of the four levels and some of the key drivers and motivational patterns at that level.

To get your own copies of the articles sent direct to your inbox Click here to continue.

Remember . . . Stay Curious!

With warm regards

David Klaasen is director and owner of the niche HR consultancy, Inspired Working Ltd.  (
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If you have a communication or performance problem and would like some objective advice drop David a line at
[email protected].