Roses of connection

A Dive into Group Dynamics

In today’s rapidly changing world, understanding human interactions and dynamics is more crucial than ever. Whether it’s personal relationships, professional environments, or team dynamics, having insight into how individuals communicate and behave can lead to more effective collaboration, increased productivity, and stronger relationships. In this article, we delve into two interesting concepts: the Leary’s Rose and the Essentiedenkers’ Rose. We explore their applications in deciphering complex human connections.

Discovering Interpersonal Styles

Leary’s Rose, also known as the “Interpersonal Circumplex,” is a powerful conceptual framework for understanding different interpersonal styles and communication patterns, despite being an older model. Visualize it as a circle diagram divided into eight segments. Each segment represents a unique blend of personality traits and communication tendencies, providing insight into how individuals interact with others. This model revolves around relational desires, with its foundation being a vertical and a horizontal axis. The vertical axis (dominance axis) indicates who takes the lead, while the horizontal axis (cooperation axis) indicates whether cooperation exists or not.

Looking at behaviours in positions on both axes reveals distinct characteristics:

Vertical Axis:

  • Upper position: active, initiating, influencing, controlling.
  • Lower position: passive, dependent, submissive, conforming.

Horizontal Axis:

  • Together position: kind, sympathetic, cooperative.
  • Against position: unkind, suspicious, intolerant.

Leary’s Rose can help you understand why you react in certain ways in particular situations. Do you become quiet when someone is loud, or do you become loud and notice the other person becoming quiet? In such cases, you can clearly see the axes of the model at play. Leary further expanded the model into eight segments, each containing a specific relational desire linked to particular behaviour. Unlike archetypes, this model focuses on (a response to) behaviour rather than specific characteristics of individuals. Leary discovered our tendency to respond complementarily to each other’s behaviours and mapped out these reactions using two principles:

  • Symmetry Principle: When you prioritise your self-interest, the other person is likely to do the same. Establishing a common interest increases the likelihood of mutual participation. Seeking this symmetry can lead to good cooperation, reflecting a more human-centered approach. Generally, individuals adopting this approach tend to be friendly. Opposite the “friendly” individuals are the more “businesslike” ones, characterised by a functional approach.
  • Complementary Principle: This principle illustrates the dynamic of leading and following. If one person assumes a submissive or compliant stance, the other is more likely to take on a leadership role.

Combining these principles yields the characteristics of four main roles:

  • Directive: upper right
  • Adapting: lower right
  • Defensive: lower left
  • Aggressive: upper left

Directive Behaviour. It’s generally true that directive individuals are proactive and friendly. They exhibit decisiveness and consider others’ interests, appearing warm and approachable. They are convincing, highly communicative, and often very present. When they assert themselves strongly (upper behaviour), it leads others to adapt (lower behaviour). Resisting directive behaviour can involve displaying aggressive behaviour oneself, thereby forcing the other person into a defensive position.

Adapting Behaviour. Individuals exhibiting adapting behaviour are characterised by compliance and friendliness. They are focused on others and tend to reactively adapt. They avoid conflicts, are empathetic, modest, and often gentle. Their pitfall is easily sacrificing themselves and projecting their own empathy onto others. If they find themselves overly trusting, they may experience significant disappointment. Adapting behaviour in one person triggers directive behaviour in the other. If adapting behaviour is undesired, it can be countered with defensive behaviour, compelling the person exhibiting adapting behaviour to take initiative.

Defensive Behaviour. Someone who shows less emotion and approaches everything more objectively is defensively inclined. They are less likely to take initiative and tend to wait to see what others do. Defensive behaviour is often characterised by a certain degree of distance, a bit of stiffness, sometimes even unfriendliness and conservatism. These traits manifest in a more businesslike demeanour. Others may perceive them as complainers. Individuals displaying defensive behaviour provoke aggressive behaviour in others. To counter this, exhibit more adapting behaviour yourself. Here, you place the initiative on the other person, who can only complain about having to “solve everything again because no one else did anything!”

Aggressive Behaviour. Full of initiative, businesslike, and prioritising self-interest are traits of individuals exhibiting aggressive behaviour. Emotionally, they are authoritarian, cool-headed, and strict. Additionally, you may observe behaviour that can be described as dominant, confident, and even provocative. In extreme cases, dominance can manifest as bossiness and being overly controlling. Leary’s Rose demonstrates that aggressive behaviour in one person elicits defensive behaviour in another. To counter aggressive behaviour, you must exhibit directive behaviour yourself, thereby compelling the aggressive person to adopt a more compliant stance.

In practice, understanding how Leary’s Rose is constructed is beneficial. However, avoid using it manipulatively to control situations. Sometimes, a different remark or action can positively influence a situation, albeit subtly.

Rose of Essentiedenkers

There’s another Rose (Roos), the one from Essentiedenkers. Over there, Roos is the cheerful improvement process facilitator and puppy consultant. Roos, our golden retriever, participates in group sessions and uses her “Fur Factor” to positively alter dynamics.

The Fur Factor: Understanding Dynamics in Human Relationships

The Fur Factor is more than just action and reaction; it’s the visualization of behavior and counterbehavior. Roos, our colleague, uniquely illustrates this factor. Whether it’s a young pup, a middle-aged dog, or an older canine, The Fur Factor continues to operate, albeit in different manifestations. The significant advantage of The Fur Factor lies not so much in mirroring but in visualizing the dynamics and how they evolve.

Making Dynamics Visible

In Western society, we humans tend to be more focused on facts and figures than on emotions and intuition. We learn this in schools and universities, as well as in the workplace. We’re often convinced that we base our decisions on these numbers and facts. However, that’s not entirely true! Most decisions we make are driven by emotions and feelings. We then seek out the appropriate numbers and facts to justify them, making it seem like we’re acting rationally. Not only do others but also we ourselves believe that we make decisions based on facts and figures.

In organisations and teams, or simply in relationships, things can sometimes hit rough patches, causing friction. This friction often stems from emotions and the softer side of human relationships. Because many people aren’t accustomed to actively displaying this side, it’s often a puzzle to figure out why things aren’t going smoothly and where exactly the problem lies. Due to habit, people tend to first look at the “hard” aspects like workflow, workload, or work pressure, rather than focusing on interpersonal relationships or challenging team dynamics.

This is where Roos comes into play. By integrating her into the dynamics, even though she’s only a few months old, we’re already noticing shifts within the group. On one hand, rough edges are smoothed out, and on the other hand, people discover different facets of their colleagues, opening up avenues for conversations. We gratefully leverage the groundwork she lays.


The Fur Factor-Connection Model

Achieve harmony in four steps using The Fur Factor-Connection model:

  • Attention -> Curiosity
  • Confidence -> Motivation
  • Message -> Execution
  • Reward -> Connection


Why Use This Model with Dogs?
Because animals, especially dogs, require a different form of communication than humans. Humans often try to persuade others with words alone, but it’s the combination of words, credibility, experience, and motivation that brings about real change.

Communication: A Multilingual Dance

Communicating directly with Roos requires a multilingual but clear approach. Word use, hand signals and body language must together convey a reinforcing message. Roos reads and hears the message and acts on it. Each element contributes to a harmonious interaction without one of them being dominant.

In the case of communication, Roos helps with the insight that messages reinforce or counteract each other.

If we give Roos the command to “sit”, she does this. Now in the learning phase we both give the spoken command. We say “sit” and immediately add the hand signal. When learning, Roos makes this connection herself. In a later phase it is sufficient to give only one of the messages. When we tell this, everyone is convinced of its logic. One also immediately understands that a spoken command must be accompanied by the corresponding hand signal. If you say “sit” but give the hand signal of “come”, Roos doesn’t know what you mean. The result is confusion and less confidence in our leadership.

When we use this concept to map the communication both internally and externally of the team leader or even the organization, these types of miscommunication examples always come up. Together we will look at how we can turn this into a clear communication line.


Trust is the Essential Element
Communication isn’t just about conveying information; fundamentally, it’s about building trust. If one message says “left” while simultaneously another says “right,” it’s entirely unclear which of the two is the real message. In fact, it raises doubts about whether there’s a message at all.

The recipient’s response will be similar to Roos’s reaction; trust in the leader (drastically) diminishes. The erosion of trust, akin to a downward spiral, is often not recognised as a consequence of conflicting messages.


Predictability Aids in Winning Trust


Timing Matters

The timing and sequence of actions are crucial. For example, when Roos is chasing a ball, she’s not paying attention to other signals. Communicating at that moment is limited unless using louder signals such as a whistle. In emergencies, you might resort to that once. However, if you do it every time, the impact diminishes until it’s negligible. Timing determines success in understanding and executing desired behavior.

Let The Fur Factor loose in your organization. Are you brave enough to seek Roos’s assistance? Ask her how your language and actions truly align. Do you have enough self-assurance to test your trust? Don’t hesitate any longer; get in touch with her.

Have a great day!



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