Systems theory suggests that every person lives in a system which cannot be considered linear as many different situations causes an effect. Therefore when one person is treated badly, there will be various circumstances that can explain the outcome. The circumstance may be that the person causing the treatment may be feeling bad themselves but need to see it in someone else, which was caused by their own past. It could also be that the person who feels that they are treated badly lacks assertive skills and is not sure how to manage the interaction. Therefore you would have to look at the needs of the system itself (such as system at the workplace or family structure, which is also known as second-order) and the needs of the individual (which is also known as first order) and create a balance.
Using systems theory is also helpful in the workplace, as interactions and behaviour is caused by the system in the workplace. Therefore considering one particular situation may not be as helpful as considering various aspects. As example, suggested by Ms Smith-Acuna, an employee was having trouble with a colleague and felt anxious, unsupported and was too apologetic, however her own way of conducting the meeting (fitting in the with system) needed improvement and she needed to improve her assertive skills (changing the individual) to improve how the meetings functioned, while her colleague needed to change her behaviour as she was critical and impatient. If the change-agent was to only look at the two people, then important details would have been missed. Details of how the meetings were run (system of the organisation) and how the individual fit within the system (second-order system).
Another example is family therapy using systems therapy. A teenager was always angry, but when he was able to manage his anger, another teenager in the family started playing up. It was discovered that the children were expressing the anger that the parent needed to express (of the marriage). However, once the parent realised what was really going on (a system that may have lasted generations and can be resistant to change), the dynamics of the whole family started to change. Systems theory can also help understand that change in behaviour can cause change in systems, however systems need to be considered in two parts - the rules, roles and boundaries that support the system which always works toward maintaining homeostasis and the structure of the system. It is also important to remember that systems also has sub-systems (e.g., department in the workplace) which need to be considered.
In summary, behaviour is often reinforced by the system the person is in as it is providing feedback. You will need to ask is the system causing me to behave, feel or think in this way or do I need to change to fit in the system. What needs to change to create a balance? Often, in the workplace it is usually the latter as some people may fit in the system and some may not and either need to change or move out. You would have to look at the whole picture, and its different parts, to understand the causes.
Source: Systems Theory in Action - Application to individual, couples and family therapy by Shelly Smith-Acuna.
The conundrum of human behaviour. It can be playful, rewarding, hurtful, encouraging, and comforting. Can it be judged by what you see at first sight? I don't think so. Sometimes you need to interact for a while to find out the truth. Sometimes, people will use their social skills to manipulate or use desirable or undesirable qualities to achieve a conscious or unconscious goal that may be hurtful or helpful to others. Moreover, others will seek out vulnerable qualities to take advantage of another person to achieve their own goal. Do you remain on guard or trust completely. Do you work with your head or your heart only. I'd say both.
If you have a mind that looks for patterns and consistencies, sometimes a person will thwart what you assumed. They will do something completely the opposite to what you expected. The evidence before you suddenly changed. Or is it what you only wanted to see, and the evidence before you no longer supports what you perceived? Remember, that perception is filtered from your belief system. What about if you are value driven, do you change your values or change what is around you or just accept without judgement? It's a conundrum, surely.
Carl Rogers used person centred therapy on a client who he found out told a lie the whole time because the client realised he could get away with it. He took advantage of the situation. The therapy was to provide unconditional positive regard conditions in the treatment room. To accept fully what the client had said, without judgement. Whereas in contemporary counselling, the therapist will look for inconsistencies to challenge the client so they will be aware of their words and actions. The strategy is to help them grow out of a dysfunctional pattern and create conditions for change. Carl Rogers' technique is today mainly used to build a rapport with the client and as part of the treatment, not the treatment itself.
In the end, every day is a learning experience. The test is to use each experience as a chance to grow yourself. To realise that you cannot change others and that if they did indeed choose to use your vulnerabilities as a chance to manipulate you, that you have learned from the experience and to grow from it. It is also a chance to realise that yesterday no longer exists, but was part of your wonderful experience. Today is a gift and to be open enough to learn from what you have been presented with and tomorrow is a day you will never know, as they say a mystery.
Therefore human behaviour is a conundrum, but I'm guessing that it is meant to be. That it enables life to be a classroom, where we learn from each other. To accept others fully, to not be so judgemental but to learn that there is the good, the bad, and that each will bring out what we need to be challenged in order to grow into a better person.
I just want to add, that for those who have Autism, ADHD or are highly intelligent that human behaviour is more of a challenge because you find shifting perspective a challenge, you continually look for patterns and that you think more with your head than emotionally. You also notice detail more, highly sensitive and the outside world can be exhausting. But if you learn the skills, learn more about yourself and how to manage what you find too difficult sometimes, such as change, you can become a master at learning about differences and that when something unexpected thwarts you that feeling completely uncomfortable is part of the growth process. Just be okay with it and continue to grow. It would be easier living in a bubble and to only use your mind, but life experience will teach you more than a book, a classroom or the internet. Sometimes it will hurt, sometimes it will be joyful, but staying the same won't help either.
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