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Understanding and developing any relationship
 

Seven Column Analysis

Acknowledgement: I learned this from Chris Bull who was then with Sheppard Moscow Associates. Thank you Chris.

Introduction

Seven-column analysis is a very simple and powerful tool for understanding and developing any relationship. The relationship is between a person, in column one, and a domain, or part of life, in column two. The domain can be a person department group or even, if you use your imagination, your house or garden. You work through the questions in the columns in the number order given and analyse three or four steps in one interaction. The worked example later should make it clearer. If you are the person write down your answers. If you are helping someone else, write down his or her answers. At the end study the chart.

(You can download editable blank forms here

 

1 My Name

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 How do I feel when I respond?

4 How do I respond?

6 What am I valuing when I respond?

7 What is the domain valuing?

3 What does the domain typically say or do?

2 The name of the domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to use this tool

Analyse three or four layers in a typical interaction. Look for distorted communication, particularly between what people feel and what they say. Use the value columns (six and seven) to search for what is really going on. This is usually the client being a victim or competing unhelpfully. Invite the client to think how he or she can change things for the better. Use a tough but supportive style. For further help, see the worked example.

A hypothetical example "The frustrated assistant"

 

1 My Name

5 How do I feel when I respond?

4 How do I respond?

6 What am I valuing when I respond?

7 What is the domain valuing?

3 What does the domain typically say or do?

2 The name of the domain?

Fred

Cross and frustrated.

Impatient too.

I ignore her.

My dignity.

Avoiding me.

She walks past me and grunts.

Mary

Cross, used, uninvolved.

I ask when it is required by.

Being professional.

My contribution.

Calls me in. She gives me work.

Pleased and anxious

Complete my work

Being professional

Avoiding people. Doing her work.

Stays in office

Sad and cross

I put the work in her tray.

Doing what is expected

Getting on with her work

Says "Put it over there"

 

Analysis

There is considerable distortion in Fred's communication. What he does is incongruent with what he feels. He is colluding with Mary's remote and very tasky style. You can see this from the value columns (five and six). He is being a victim. There is possible common ground for improvement as both are interested in Fred making a contribution.

Practical help

You could help Fred level with Mary and create a more productive partnership. Fred could say "I am feeling sad and frustrated at the moment. I want to talk about how we are working together and how it could be better for both of us. What I need is...? What do you need from me?" This direct communication is often frightening in prospect. Ask Fred what is the worst thing that could happen and what will happen he does nothing. Get him to rehearse the conversation with you. Encourage him to be congruent even to go 'over the top' with you. This gets the negative feelings out and will empower him.

How would you like the relationship to be?

You can use seven-column analysis directly to improve a relationship. Use the columns, below, as before. This time you decide how you would like the relationship to be and take responsibility for making it that way. The technique is now a planning tool. The worked example should make this clearer.

(You can download editable blank forms here) 

 

1 My Name

3 How would I like to feel about the domain?

4 What could I do or say that would make me feel that way?

5 What would I be valuing then?

7 What would the domain be valuing?

6 How would the domain respond?

2 The name of the domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hypothetical example "The fulfilled assistant"

 

1 My Name

3 How would I like to feel?

4 What could I do or say that would make me feel that way?

5 What would I be valuing then?

7 What would the domain be valuing?

6 How would the domain respond?

2 The name of the domain

Fred

Positive and relaxed

Tell her about a way I have improved my productivity

My contribution.

Her interest.

Encouraging efficiency improvement

Say "Well done".

Mary

Valuable

Ask her what she was pleased about.

Her feedback and my contribution.

My contribution.

Say "Taking practical initiatives to improve".

Supported and supportive - a team of two

Are there any other areas where we could improve?

Working together.

Her contribution.

Making positive change.

My contribution.

We've always had problems with...

Any ideas?

Analysis

Fred's communication is now congruent. What he says matches what he feels. Mary responds to his need to make a contribution because this meets her needs for productivity and efficiency.

Practical help

The people we interact with are used to us being a certain way. They may be suspicious of sudden or dramatic changes, even positive ones. They may think you are manipulating them. Slow and gentle changes are more effective. Most people find role-playing the preferred interaction a few times is very helpful. They become more comfortable with it and that makes it more effective in practice. 

Finally

I would be pleased to hear about any new and interesting uses of this tool that you discover.

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Phone +44 (0)1707886553, or +44(0)7879861525 email nickheap43@gmail.com or Skype nickheap

Using these materials
I am entirely happy for you to use or draw on any these materials in any way you think will be helpful. I am keen to have my work, and the work of the people I have learned from, used.  

Language

The language on this site is correct UK English throughout. There are differences in spelling and meaning between UK and US English. The context should make the material understandable in the US.

Further Information

There are free articles, exercises, designs, book references and links to other sources about many aspects of personal, team, management and organisation development on this website. I will add other resources as I learn what you want.

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