RL Practice of the Month

Are You Trapped by the Poorly Differentiated?

Are You Trapped by the Poorly Differentiated?

Fact:Almost every organization/family will, at some point, have a member who behaves in a poorly differentiated way for a time and maybe for a long time. A poorly differentiated person is highly reactive, intrusive of others’ boundaries, and does not take responsibility for self. Frequently they demand a disproportionate amount of time and energy for others in the organization or family to manage, live with, or even contain. This frequently comes at a high cost to the team/family members and can cause real resentment of the poorly differentiated member.


Think about your organization/family for a moment. Are there employees or family members who are poorly differentiated and if so, what impact are they are having on you and on your team/family. Ask yourself: “Is it time to take different and more helpful steps forward?”

Try It:

A good place to start is to look at your own functioning. A well differentiated team member or family member will:

  • Stay connected and stay on course as they remain constant in their efforts to bring health to the emotional dynamics in the organization/family system.
  • Stop under functioning to “avoid” the difficult behavior or over functioning to “save” the poorly differentiated member. Hold others accountable while being encouraging at the same time.
  • Face and resolve conflicts that are caused by the poorly differentiated member.
    See the poorly differentiated behavior as a symptom of anxiety within the work/family system and find ways to minimize the anxiety.
  • Engage with others thoughtfully asking yourself: “What is the responsible thing for me to do in this situation?”