Part ONE - I got the best job in the world! And then I murdered my boss

The first part of this course asks the simplest of questions but perhaps the hardest to answer…

What’s your default behaviour style?

A default behaviour style means your automatic response when you are under pressure, or in an argument. If you want to know how to implement changes in your relationships and have control over your enemies, then first discover what presses your buttons, and then don’t do it. Sounds ridiculous I know but it’s that simple!

Why? Well the old adage stands fast here, ‘if you want to change someone’s behaviour or a situation then change your behaviour and your situation and the other person/s will change too. The million-dollar question is how do you know what presses your buttons?


It’s not an exact science and it depends on context but once something/someone has pressed our buttons we have a propensity to react in a certain way. Being able to Identify this default style means we have a great tool at our disposal. If you think you know your default behaviour style, then that’s great, just remember that how you think you are behaving is rarely viewed the same way from the other side. Your behaviour is just one face of a playing card. I’ll repeat that bit:

How you think you are behaving is rarely viewed the same way from the other side.

Relationships are somewhat like a pack of cards. They are full of rules, hierarchy and infinite possibility; and one small move can send us tumbling down. Good card games like good relationships have a strong grounding, and require strategy, instinct, skills and conscious understanding. Just like with cards you need to check in that you are playing the same game. Unlike cards you need to do this regularly!

Take a brief moment to think about what you are like under pressure and what you do when you disagree with someone.

O.K. Lets play cards.

i. Please pick a present difficulty you are experiencing with someone, or one that you have experienced in the past.

It’s best to use a real situation. It doesn’t matter if it’s work related, domestic or incidental. All that matters is that it matters to you and that there is something that you wish to improve. Please be realistic when choosing your scenario. Think carefully about your argument. Pick something low key and manageable to begin with.

Ok so now you’ve chosen your scenario let's discover your default behaviour style.

ii. Have a read of the list below and pick which of these characters best describes you when you are under pressure or in a disagreement with someone.
The King: - I would rather avoid and be made into minced meat then start, enter or get involved in an argument
The Queen: - I’ve got a lot of moves, a lot of strategies up my sleeve and I’ll battle on
10 of Hearts: - I’ll jump straight in on the wave if I feel aggrieved or it’s needed, tell them what I think, I’m a well armoured tank
The Knave: - I’ll usually look for the quiet and non-confrontational approach, think, think, think, I really want to make the peace
2 of Spades: - I’ll give up a bit of my pie, hopefully they will too, if I suggest this, maybe they’ll do the other, it’s good to compromise
1 of Diamonds: - I’ll direct it and do it my way, it’s fast and often people want to be led, do and ask questions later
3 of Hearts: - I like to be part of the team, get the person/s involved, listen to all the voices, and collaborate
The Ace: - I’m usually watching, mind reading, listening and trying to understand what might be going on for others
The Joker: - I’m not god but I’ll create or transform the situation into something new, have a little fun
iii. NOW - Please write 1 word down from the list above, that best describes you when under pressure and in disagreement with someone. It might be fast or quiet, directing, avoiding ... you choose whatever resonates for you.

Whichever word and character you’ve picked is the right one. There’s absolutely no wrong answer…

You are a smart sophisticated person so you might be saying, I am more than one of these characters or words or even all of them, depending on context. These characters are not there to restrict you, they are simply a springboard for awareness, so for now, if you haven’t done so already, try to narrow down one word and one character.

If that’s proving difficult imagine you’re an audience member in the theatre, and your scenario is being enacted on the stage. Think about how the characters behaved and what they did. Which one of those characters would you cast yourself as. Are you sitting quietly observing, or slamming your hand down on the table and so on?

This is a good technique to use at any time to distance oneself from a problem and view it with a fresh perspective.


What judgement do you associate with the character and word you’ve picked? What are your instinctive reactions to it?

Each one of the words and characters in the card list above can be positioned in a number of different ways, both in a negative and positive frame. Just like an actor saying ‘I love you’ can be played authentically, sarcastically, humorously, sardonically, and so on.

Each one of the words and characters in the card list are neither good nor bad, they only have judgment attached to them by you or by another and in relation to another.

To give you an example of what I mean I am going to use the 1 of Diamonds and the word fast:

In certain situations fast is an asset. The advantage means you can be active, dynamic, and meet deadlines. It can also mean a disadvantage, for example; missing details, reactive and impatient. The interesting point here is that they can be either and only become a disadvantage or advantage depending on judgement.

If you work with someone who loves detail and hates deadlines and you are both happy with the arrangement then missing details is not a disadvantage. In fact it becomes an advantage to the other person and keeps them in a job.

So, did you find advantages and disadvantages associated with that one word that you chose? Or were there more of one than the other or were they both equal? Human beings have a propensity to judge constantly. The goal here is to observe, in order to detect patterns of behaviour, rather than judge them.


We all have a propensity towards default patterns of behaviour. Patterns and habits can be good for us and they are there for a reason. Putting socks in the same drawer maybe a habit or a pattern but who wants to change their sock drawer every week?

We need to know where we stand and we don’t want to reinvent all the time but it’s also very easy to get stuck in these patterns. Even when the sock drawer is so full and you can’t stand it any more, can barely open and close it, it can sometimes feel impossible to change it. The sock drawer may seem like a trite metaphor for our behaviour but actually it is very similar. We need to be aware of when a habit or pattern is no longer serving our best interests.

This self-awareness in relation to our own behaviour is key and the starting point for improving our relationships.

At the start of Part 1 I mentioned that we rarely see ourselves as others do. So let's put that to the test. Over the next week ask some family members and friends which character and word from the card list they would pick for you and see if it’s the same. Choose people who you think will be honest and interested in the discussion.

Once you are aware of your own default behaviour patterns, you’ll no doubt also start to see patterns in others.

That’s it for Part ONE.


We’ve explored default behaviour and judgements in relation to that behaviour.

In Part TWO we’ll be looking at how to flex our style.

Delighted to have you on the course and look forward to talking with you again in a week.


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