Can you ever have relationships with people that are friction-free? We are becoming so diverse in our workplace and communities that you are bound to interact with people who have a different personality, communication, and cognitive style from you. They might come from a different culture. They may have competing agendas.
It might seem that the person is being deliberately defiant. You will wish you could change them. But any effort to try to change them leads to instant frustration!
What’s the golden rule when it comes to getting along? Be impeccable for your 50 percent – what you CAN control; and take 100 percent responsibility for what goes on within your 50 percent. Put your efforts into being effective at what you can control instead of trying to change them.
Here are four things you can control as you live and work with people you clash with:
Understand their motivations better
Part of the reason you might not get along with them is that you expect them to be like you even though they are wired differently. There are many ways you might be wired differently – some of us are motivated toward (we love to go for it). Some of us are motivated away (we want to hold on to what we have and not lose it). Some of us are motivated to get results and prioritize tasks over relationships. Others of us prioritize people’s feelings in relationships and only care about the task once the interpersonal interaction feels good. It takes all kinds to get big things done.
It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the many assessments regarding people’s strengths and preferred modes of communication. Popular ones include the person’s love language, social style, Kolbe assessment, color code, etc.
Understand their limitations
Many people try to stay in a comfort zone because they have an area of perceived weakness and try to work around it. If you can identify what this weakness is, you will be better able to predict their behavior and avoid hitting their internal wall.
Give a mutual instruction manual
Instead of trying to guess, ask the person if they could give you suggestions on how best to work with them. Ask them to explain their reasoning to you so you can see it from their point of view. You might learn something new, or at least learn how they see the world so you can reframe your requests of them in terms of ‘what’s in it for them.’ Similarly, don’t make them guess the best way to work with you: Give them the ‘instruction manual’ for how to work best with you.
Become more independent of that person wherever possible
Narrow their role in your life to functional transactions. Instead of looking to them for approval or involving them extensively in your projects, only interact with them when you have to get a result at work or to arrange logistics in your personal life. Are you in a position where you could advance and then not have to interact with them as often? Ask your manager what it will take for you to advance and make the answer your objective for this year. Make a commitment to do what you need to do in order to avoid having your energy drained by a difficult person – so you can make the contribution you are here to make!