6 Ways to Relate to Others

by Ian

in Conversation, Interview, Prompts

Update – This was 5, but is now the 6 ways to relate to others due to a new understanding.

How we relate to others is paramount for us to achieve what we desire as an outcome especially as we are when we are recording a Life Story.

I avoid the term ‘Interview’, as it creates in everyone’s mind the classic journalist question and answer format. This may well have it’s place with investigative or political journalism but that is not what we are about. What we are after is stories, banter and engagement to help everyone to relax and open up to reveal themselves and their lives. Thoughtful questions are great but we’re after more than just the response, the question is just the mechanism to get them started, along the path of discovering another great story, to give us new insight.

Journalism and non engagement


This morning I was Interviewed about my opinion on a topic and I realised that he engaged with me in a manner that I hadn’t considered before – Sure it’s obvious now but call me slow.

In Episode 10, I mentioned of the 5 Ways to relate to others. To remind you they are, Contempt, Pity, Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion. This list has served me well until this morning when I realised that the manner in which he engaged with me didn’t suit one of these.

He was polite and thanked me for taking the time to talk with him, asking reasonable thoughtful questions in a pleasant manner, certainly not contemptuous or pitting in his style but there was no engagement. He was there on task, to achieve his desired outcome. He didn’t relate himself to me or show any personal opinions on the topic other than to say he was a journalism student writing for the University paper. He didn’t create a sense of sympathy, empathy or compassion either. What he was, in relating to me, was – Indifferent.

He was there for his purposes, with little or no concern for me other than to engage enough to get what he wanted. He asked the questions, listened quietly without any input to the answers, then when his answer tank was full said “Well I have all that I need there”, and thanked me saying Good-Bye. Simple, curt and efficient. But without connection.

I realise in journalism this is the preferred manner. Whether it is a politician, film promotion or sporting performance, there is a mutual benefit and both parties play the game of satisfying what they each want, often with Indifference. They mean no malice, they just don’t care.

So to help us understand this new dynamic I’ve come to the realisation that we need to include Indifference into the list.

The new revised list of the 6 Ways to Relate to Others are:

  1. Contempt – An attitude that a person is beneath consideration but deserving scorn
  2. Pity – An attitude of superiority over others misfortune
  3. Indifference – Neither positive nor negative but only engaged for individual advantage
  4. Sympathy – Emotional connection to the sorrow of another’s misfortune
  5. Empathy – Ability to understand and relate to another’s situation
  6. Compassion – Understand another’s situation and having the ability to assist

Indifference in our situation of recording a Life Story, is not what we’re after and will only result in a dry, lifeless, laundry list of unemotional information that will not be engaging or interesting. Leave that for the Journalists. We want engagement and the best connection for that is #5 – Empathy

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