Rick Hanson Transcript

Do you find yourself playing a certain role at work? Are you ready to rewrite the script?

In his upcoming book, Making Great Relationships, Simple Practices for Solving Complex Building Connection and Fostering Love, psychologist Rick Hanson discusses three invisible aspects that affect our everyday work and relationships: scripts, schemas, and stereotypes. Understanding and identifying these three areas is crucial to improving ourselves and our relationships.

  • Scripts are how we feel we need to behave.
  • Schemas are blueprints for situations.
  • Stereotypes are shortcuts for how we view a person.

Hanson calls these three areas models of ourselves and how we see the world. By understanding blueprints and shortcuts for how people typically act or how situations may play out, we don’t have to keep figuring things out every time–summer is always hot, sloths are always slow, etc.

The danger of scripts, schemas, and stereotypes is when we become trapped by them. Just because we’ve always followed the same blueprint for a situation doesn’t mean that’s how it always has to be. Similarly, just because we have a script of how people behave doesn’t mean we have to follow it. Hanson says it’s crucial to remember autonomy and that we are the authors of our own scripts and don’t have to listen to the internal or external puppet masters telling us how to act.

We don’t have to be controlled by old scripts and assumptions just because there may be voices in our heads or people telling us certain things.

Rather than being stuck in the past, Hanson finds it helpful to realize that other people often try to write you into their scripts and place you in a particular role. The first step to rewriting a script, whether at work or in your personal life, is to take a step back. You don’t have to buy into someone else’s script!


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There’s a balance between being true to yourself and being aware of what it’s like for others to be around you. There is tremendous value in being willing to stretch, grow, and learn.

Hanson also recommends disrupting the script. There’s no replacement for action, and a script can be motivating to change and improve. If people at work have scripted you as someone who never has good ideas or isn’t fun to be around, you may feel stuck in a specific role, whether or not it is true. Hanson says to start by thinking about who you really are. Then shake it up and do the opposite of what you’re expected to do. If the script says you’re always late, come to work on time. If it says you are a robot leader, take an employee to coffee and get to know them.

Hanson says that those little changes can produce sweeping results.

Scripts, schemas, and stereotypes guide our world and help us understand situations and be more efficient. But they shouldn’t make us feel stuck or get in the way of growth and improvement. As we understand scripts and our roles, we can improve ourselves and our relationships with others.

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