The Success Orientations Model


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The Relationship Orientation

The relationship oriented person sees other people as the best way to achieve success. In an extreme case, almost everything such an individual does in life must involve other people.

Some general factors that describe a relationship oriented person:

  • When faced with a problem or a new situation, the first instinct for a relationship oriented person is to contact a friend or family member who might be able to help solve the problem or explain how to deal with it.

  • This person does not like to be alone. Almost all activities must have a social element, even such simple tasks as doing the dishes, walking the dog, or working in the garden.

  • A weekend is not complete unless at least some parts have a social element. A quiet Friday night makes a relationship oriented person uncomfortable - unless by quiet you mean going out to a friend’s house for drinks and a chat.

  • Formal group settings, positive team spirit and a sense of camaraderie are all things that enliven a relationship oriented person.

  • Recreational activities are in and of themselves not important - only the social element of the activity is important. Almost any activity is fun if there are friends along and as long as the focus is on the social element and not on the activity itself (an important distinction).

  • Finding out about other people is a natural instinct for the relationship oriented person. How people “fit” together - who is who’s friend, for example, is extremely important to relationship oriented people.

  • There is a hierarchy for relationship oriented people: One person to share a meal with is good. Two is better, Three is even better, Four or more is best. Adding people to an activity midstream, like asking someone to join a lunch or meeting, is completely acceptable and even makes the whole experience even livelier for the relationship oriented person.

  • Verbal communication skills and body language awareness are the highest of any orientation. Verbal skills are naturally developed from infancy through the intense desire for interpersonal interactions. A relationship oriented person can sometimes be seen actually repetitively practicing speech patterns, mimicking people they have strong bonds with, and reveling in verbal handshaking.

  • As a group these people are also very aware of body language and sensitive to personal “energy”.

  • Relationship oriented people are irresistibly attracted to each other in social and work settings. Of course in romantic love opposites are said to attract, but in a general social setting, relationship oriented people will gravitate to each other very quickly. This is not true in all cases, however, as relationship oriented people are fascinated with people in general and see others who have a goal orientation, for example, as particularly fascinating. “I met _____, the Olympic athlete, today!” might be something a relationship oriented person would get excited about.

  • Relationship oriented people who are not self-aware consider the other orientations “boring and cold” (process oriented people) or “greedy, selfish, and self-centered” (goal oriented people). Caveat: These thoughts don’t last long if these other people show a modicum of real sociability. All can be (nearly) forgiven if someone is friendly.

  • Homework or studying of any kind only works for relationship oriented people if there are other people around to do the homework or studying with.

  • Solitary, individual, no-talking exams are an abomination to the relationship oriented person. Group projects with lots of time for social interaction are a delight.

Things you will hear a highly relationship oriented person say:

  • “Let me call my friend - he will know the answer.”

  • “Call me tonight. I will be doing my ironing, which is totally boring. We can chat while I do it!”

  • “I want to start running again. Do you want to do it with me?”

  • “Skiing? Sounds great! Who else is coming??”

  • “Let’s go out to lunch together” (I never eat alone!)

  • “Come and join us for lunch! This is great...Jane, meet my friend Anne. Do you remember yesterday I mentioned Anne has a friend who works at...”

  • “I know that person. Hey Jim!! How are you doing!?!?”

  • “Let’s study together tonight.”

  • “Let’s work on a project together” or “Can we do this project in teams?”

  • “May we take the case study home the night before the exam so we can have more time to read
    it?” (not just to read it, of course, but to work on it together)

  • “Sir, may I come to see you for help on my paper.” (Help in this case means hoping that a friendly teacher will mean hints on how to get an “A”).

  • A relationship oriented primary school teacher: “That child plays so nicely and is so friendly with the other children. What a good child!”

Spaces a relationship oriented person enjoys being in

  • Coffee shops - the ones where you can see everyone. Loud spaces are good, because you can hear other people’s conversations - a good thing for relationship oriented people.

  • Bars - grouping around a table for drinks and chatting or sitting at the bar - but only sitting at the bar if the bartender is friendly and likes to talk.

  • Open street cafes - where you can hear other people’s conversations and watch who is going by (you might see someone you know!) Open cafes are great places where others can see you, too. Then they might come over and join you for a chat.

  • Restaurants that have an open floor plan where everyone can be seen clearly, particularly where the door can be watched to see who comes in.

  • Wide open fitness clubs where you can watch other people.

  • Wide open public spaces with lots of people walking around who you can see, hear, and where you might meet someone you know. Beaches, public walkways, and shopping malls are examples.

  • Movie theatres, stadiums, and outdoor events where lots of people gather for a purpose. These are great places for seeing, hearing and spotting people you know while they are engaged in viewing an activity. These places are also great because in them people are not actually focused on doing the activity and can therefore engage in discussions with you.

  • Classrooms. “If you want to meet new people, take an evening course at your local community college” is an old dating maxim. The best classes for a relationship oriented person are the ones which are not rigidly controlled, but open to discussions and lots of before and after class chatting. These classes are a wonderful forum for socialization. Learning through discussion in close proximity to other people is a pleasure for the relationship oriented person.

Careers that attract relationship oriented people

Extreme relationship oriented people are rare. Most people are a mix of two orientations, with one being dominant. A lot of people fall into this second group: A dominant relationship orientation and a lesser process or goal orientation. Those few people who have a very strong or extreme relationship orientation tend to favor certain careers. If they are not in these kinds of careers, they find themselves unhappy in their working lives. Some typical careers for relationship oriented people:

  • Sales - particularly where relationships are important - car sales, real estate sales, financial sales, business-to-business sales - any selling situation where interpersonal relationships play a role.

  • Politics

  • Public relations

  • Dating services

  • Recruitment firms

  • Relationship banking

Learn more about the relationship orientation by exploring your own ways of doing things. There is no one right way of doing things in life - but there seems to be some fairly common groupings of ways people go about doing them.

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