Timeless Spirit Logo Being Mindful

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. September's Theme: "Relationships"
Volume 4 Issue 6 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Being Mindful
What Television Stars Taught Me About Improving My Relationships

by Janet Alston Jackson

When I was working at CBS and ABC Television Networks as a publicist, I found stars generally easy to get along with. But then there were certain celebrities who were difficult. In fact, a few were simply awful and overshadowed those good relationships I had in the industry. Besides having to deal with their over-inflated egos, reflecting their fame and money, which came too fast too soon, these difficult actors were unhappy and didn't feel worthy of their riches. This can mean absolute hell for those of us working with them. Not to mention problems when an actor was on drugs and their judgment was clouded with dope.

There were times I hated working on some shows because of difficult actors. I was miserable and resentful of myself because I had sweaty palms and a racing heart every time I had to ask them to do an interview or take a picture to publicize their show. There were times I traveled with an actor who made my life miserable on the road during publicity tours. I vacillated being angry with them, and angry at myself for giving my power away to them. My fellow publicists and I would often complain about how ironic it was that we have to fight certain actors to help them become richer and more famous.

A few celebrities I publicized felt they were above publicity and would like to think that the public magically fell in love with them. This simply was not the case, at least not them and many other television actors. Usually there's a small publicity army working around the clock to get them into magazines, newspapers or guests on talk shows. Let me pause here to say that the bigger the star in 99% of the cases, the easier it is to deal with them. But getting along with their overly-protective handlers is another story.

Then there are many first time actors who get on hit shows, and can't handle instant celebrity, so they self destruct, contaminating those around them. I worked with some actors who simply felt they were above sitting down talking to a reporter even though their show was in danger of being cancelled. They were like wayward teenagers who think they have grown up enough to be independent of the publicity machine. But they found out differently when their show was suddenly cancelled, and people who once kissed their feet won't even return the actor's phone calls.

Still while these actors are on shows, many have contractual obligations to publicize their series. This means that I had to not only get the difficult actors to do publicity, but get the press to do articles on the actor. Despite what you may see in the press about actors running from paparrazi, those are super stars. The paparrazi and much of the print and television media usually don't care about second-billing actors on television shows unless they break the law. The mainstream press are vitally important for a show to thrive, and it's not easy to get them to do interviews with anyone other than the star of the show even though the series is a hit.

So I often found myself in difficult situations with people I felt were very difficult. I also had network executives and show producers breathing down my neck to see publicity on certain shows because millions of dollars were going into the toilet with slipped ratings. Oftentimes I felt so pressurized by being in the middle, that I would drive home from work in tears. And even more frustrating, I couldn't seem to relate to any of the people I worked with. Everyone seemed to be on a different plane. The thought crossed my mind a number of times to quit the job, but despite these few difficult people, I loved what I was doing… especially writing feature stories on celebrities which ran in newspapers around the country.

Deep inside of me, I knew I couldn't run from these relationship problems. I needed to learn how to deal with these types of personalities because this was life. Either I learned my lessons on the job, or I learn them in another way… and most likely it would be even more difficult if I left the network.

As I look back on that time, I am grateful for these relationship challenges because they put me on a spiritual path. I enrolled in classes to learn how to become closer to my higher self, which led me to the practice of meditation.

Daily I disciplined myself to sit before my makeshift altar in my bedroom and connect with something larger than myself. Revelations quickly came when I was out of the way. I realized the difficult relationships around me were simply my teachers. They were telling me to open my heart to everyone and love unconditionally, not just when I was getting their cooperation.

Love is the healer of all things, and since God is love, answers came to me as my heart opened.

One day a classmate invited me to attend a relationship workshop with her. Since I desperately needed all of the help I could get, I went to the introductory class. The facilitator talked about the importance of understanding your behavioural style to help you relate to others. In other words how to people-read! I didn't hesitate to sign up and dragged my husband to the workshop with me.

We both floated out of the presentation as if we had found the answers to the universe. To us it truly was the mysteries of life unveiled. We learned more about ourselves in two and half hours than we had in our combined years on earth.

Here's an overview:

Through out the ages, man has grouped humanity into four behavioural styles. Astrologers say we are born under four basic signs, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said people's temperaments and personalities are shaped by four things in the body; blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Everyone of Shakespeare's plays feature four distinctive behavioural styles and Aristotle referred to four behavioural patterns in his writings.

Dr. Carl Jung wrote about his famous psychological types, the Intuitor, Thinker, Feeler and Sensor. And while Jung and his mentor Freud were studying the mania in people, inventor William Marston, was curious about how people reacted in certain environments. He wrote the book, "Emotions of Normal People," and called the four behavioural styles of people Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, and Compliance (DISC). These styles are known today in slightly different words in an instrument created by John Geier from Marston's work that is used all over the world today to teach people an understanding of their behavioural style and others. These styles are:

The DISC is the energy we use in certain environments. Usually people are a combination of these styles although one of the styles is often the primary one. Behavioural styles, which are flexible, help us to see why people say and do the things they do. Often we may use one style in our work environment and another style at home. When we understand these behavioural styles it helps us to see why we get along with some people, and have a difficult time with others. We tend to gravitate to those people who behave like ourselves.

People act certain ways to get their needs met. Conflicts occur in our relationships when people fear those needs are not going to be met. Here are the fears of the four styles and how you can communicate with them.

The Dominant person fears losing control of environment, being taken advantage of.
How to communicate with a "D" Style?

The Influencing styles fear rejection, loss of approval.
How to communicate with an "I" Style?

The Steadiness fears sudden change and losing security.
How to communicate with an "S" Style?

The Conscientiousness fears criticism, and being involved with people or projects lacking standards.
How to communicate with a "C" Style?

When we can identify people's behavioural styles, we can use their language to influence them and gain their cooperation. In other words we adapt to their behaviours and mirror them. Notice I didn't say change ourselves, but adapt to them. There is a study out with millionaires. It was found one of the most common characteristics of these wealthy people is that they know how to adapt to situations and people.

Adapting definitely helped me when I worked on Roseanne, the Roseanne Barr television comedy series at ABC. The story around that show wasn't a laughing matter. Roseanne had single-handedly resurrected the network. The ratings were extremely low before her show came on the air, but during that time of her success, people found it difficult to get along with her. In fact she was notorious for clashing with seemingly everyone. She fired producers, writers, and constantly fought with ABC television executives. She was always in the news for her wars with people associated with her show. It became a joke at one point. At the network we asked one another, "Who did Roseanne get rid of today?" My co-worker, I'll call Kyle, was the publicist on her show, and when he got booted off her show, I became his replacement.

I remember I had walked in the office and barely sat down to my desk when my boss ordered me out to Roseanne's set to get her to agree on a photo gallery for new pictures for the press. I wasn't thrilled but I knew I had to use what I learned about behavioural styles if I was going to get the job done. On the drive there, I knew this wasn't going to be easy. She didn't know me, and that week the press around the country were continuing to write articles about her difficult behaviour.

I knew Roseanne was a Dominant style. She was direct, and too often, she was a bully who wanted her way. Roseanne wanted control, a dominant trait, but after all it was her comedy that propelled the show to number one. It was her show!

Roseanne wanted results quickly from people if there was a task to be done, and she didn't think twice about telling people what she thought about them if they didn't deliver. In fact she was off the charts as a dominant style. I on the other hand am an Influencing behavioural style. I'm a people person and can smalltalk with the best of them. Influencers are cheery and always optimistic about life.

I knew I would have to adapt my behaviour to talk with Roseanne, let alone get her to do the publicity which she certainly didn't need behind the number one show; nor did she care about. Still the network executives wanted to keep that show on top and publicity was the way.

I knew if I came to her with my bubbly sometimes over the top enthusiasm, dominants like Roseanne would think I was superficial and blow me off. They are straightforward, and impatient. So when I dealt with her I needed to be quick, give her only the highlights of my request but I better have answers if she needed more information. I knew the small talk I used to set other actors at ease was a definite no-no with her.

In short I got along with Roseanne. I didn't find her difficult like many others did. In fact I found her delightful and always kind to me. We didn't become friends, and I doubt if she remembers me since there was a parade of people in and out her life then; but I will always remember working on her show and coming to her with requests because she was the first person in my professional life to affirm that understanding behavioural styles means better relationships.

I found on the other shows I worked, it became easier to get the press to talk to actors, and the actors to do interviews, publicity functions, and photo sessions. In fact I did my job so well that I became known as the publicist to be put on shows when my colleagues had conflicts with actors. No one knew my secret weapon of DISC and how understanding behavioural styles made my relationships and life so much easier.

I used what I learned from DISC at home as well. I noticed since my husband knew about behavioural styles too, our relationship grew stronger and closer. To date we've been married 27 years. I attribute our understanding of behavioural styles as key to respecting and appreciating one another's differences. My marriage wasn't the only thing to improve at home. My three kids cooperated better with me, because I learned the language to help them become self-motivated. I didn't get into the power struggles that we used to have anymore.

At home, and at work I learned people are not so much difficult, they are different.

The world of television is called one of the fastest businesses on the planet. Things change, and people come and go in show business with lightning speeds. This makes it difficult to cultivate relationships. Still the world remains infatuated with celebrities, believing these stars have some magic key to success. If only those envious fans knew that behind the scenes there are sad, famous actors who wish they could have what some of their fans have; people in their lives they can communicate with from the heart; friends and family they could trust.

It doesn't matter how much wealth or fame one has if they feel alone in this world. We all need good relationships. That's love.

To find out your behavioural style, visit Janet's website www.SportingtheRightAttitude.com

Janet Alston Jackson is the author of "A Cry for Light: A Journey into Love." To order books and CD's, schedule Janet for speaking engagements, or subscribe to Janet's newsletter, visit her website, email, or call Self Awareness Trainings toll free 1-877-796-8288. You can order Janet's book: click here.

Janet Alston Jackson, a certified seminar leader, has facilitated self-awareness workshops to a variety of audiences since 1993. She often teams with her husband Walter Jackson (author of "Sporting the Right Attitude"), to facilitate fun, high-energy motivating trainings for which the couple is known. This unique husband-and-wife team have been guests on numerous radio talk shows around the country, and have made appearances on KCET, public television.

Janet is a certified behavioural consultant, a certified anger management consultant, and a certified seminar leader. Through their motivational company Self Awareness Trainings, the Jacksons have given numerous workshops on "How to Effectively Communicate," "Releasing Stress," and "Mindfulness Trainings" to a variety of audiences including corporate executives, parents, teachers, women in recovery, prison personnel, health care workers, and entertainment industry executives.

Janet co-founded with Walter, Believe In Yourself Inc, a non-profit self-esteem program for children and their parents.

Janet earned her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the California State University at San Jose. She started her television career as a production assistant for the Los Angeles local CBS station, and she was a news writer for the Los Angeles CBS owned radio station, KNX Newsradio.

A strong advocate for children, Janet was a Court Appointed Special Child Advocate (CASA) and a board member for their fundraising arm, Friends of Child Advocate. Today she is a board member for Child Care Resource Center, which serves thousands of families in Los Angeles County.

The author and her husband Walter, have three teenagers; Ryan, Devon and Jada, and one very loveable Chow named Simba. They live in Los Angeles.

Be sure to read the reviews of her book in our September 2007 Issue.

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