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The Rose of Leary assumes that behavior elicits behavior. This communication model provides insights into which behavior is evoked by which behavior and how behavior can be influenced. The Rose of Leary is about the interaction between people, not about a person’s character. In addition, the theory is that every person exhibits every type of behavior from the rose, depending on the moment and context. The Rose of Leary, therefore, is not a method of pigeonholing people’s character. Instead, it is a tool to place, understand and respond to behavior.

The Rose of Leary roughly divides human behavior into two axes:

The horizontal axis represents the relationship someone has with another or the degree of affinity there is. For example, there is’ together-behavior’ or ‘opposed-behavior’. Here, together means that someone is willing or able to compromise. Together behavior is aimed at the acceptance of the other and symmetry. It is usually based on mutual respect. ‘Opposed’ means that someone does not want to or cannot see eye to eye with the other person. Opposed means that someone’s behavior is aimed at interests other than acceptance.

On the vertical axis, also called the complementary axis, above behavior elicits below behavior and vice versa. ‘Above-behavior’ means that someone shows dominant behavior towards the other and influences the other person to a large extent. ‘Below’ refers to submissive behavior towards the other in which the person considers himself/herself at that moment to be ‘subordinate’ to the other.

In short, with the questions ’together or opposed?’ and ‘above or below?’ in mind, you can better place the behavior of the other person and respond more consciously and effectively with your own behavior.