PETs, CATs, and other Relationship “Power Tools”

by David Ryback, Ph.D.

We all know individuals who walk around as if they’re looking for a fight.  For whatever reason, they’re always on edge, angry at the world and defending themselves against a threatening universe.  Sure enough, there are many conflicts when individuals are ready to invite them into their lives.  By the same token, we have also known their opposites-those who exclude calmness and seem to make others feel comfortable and safe.  There is no conflict here, only solving problems in a caring, mindful manner.  How can we account for such difference in personality?

The former is full of anger, ready to pounce on anyone who presents the slightest “offense”.  The latter appears to be happy with life, eager to assist others.  While the first is likely to be in the habit of frowning, the second is usually seen smiling.  In a global sense, the world is neutral, yet each of these two types arouses different reactions.  Which would you choose? Which is better to nurture and foster your personal and professional relationships?

If you choose the second personality, then nurturing your authentic self and honoring what is rather than what should be is the choice to make.  Your real self is less ego-ridden (though no entirely ego-free), and consequently, you can more readily recognize what really is out there in the world, and others will be more in accord with your view. 

With the advent of medical technology, we can now begin to understand that emotions emanate from the brain as well as the heart.  Words such as PET and CAT do not refer to the animal we may have around our homes and love.  They are acronyms for technical devices alongside other medical tools such as MRI.  Such tools allow us to understand how our brains interact at a social level, bringing about a greater comprehension of the interaction between the brains of people communicating with one another.

What is our business sense if not the consolidation of memory, habits both known and unknown, and the tendency to go one way or the other when it comes to making challenging business decisions?  How can we find our business sense if not in the depths of our brain?  Social science research has developed a new dependency on neuroscience, where PET scans and MRIs reign supreme in discovering what makes us tick when it comes to our emotional and motivational selves.

As you continue to build your personal and professional relationships be mindful of how this will continue to change and refine who you are both personally and professionally.

If you found these tips from David Ryback, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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