We all have that person, or those people, who drive us up the wall. Getting along with others seems so easy. Just “think like me” and things would be peachy. Problem is, most people don’t think like me. And I don’t think like them. Whether family, friends or coworkers, we all have “those people” in our lives who simultaneously make life fascinating and frustrating. However, understanding each other is vital to a content life.
How to Handle Conflict
For the sake of this post, I’m excluding jerks who run in our casual circles. These people who are obnoxious to everybody can be avoided much of the time through the simple choice of not hanging out with them. Our primary “how to handle conflict” challenges come through people we simply must hang out with. This person may be a close coworker, a child, parent, or sibling, or someone in a close social network.
The key to resolving conflict comes first with the realization that we aren’t all alike. An alpha personality is not going to view the world like an easy-going personality type. Neither are wrong. They are just wired differently.
Understanding Your Personality
Resolving conflict begins with understanding your personality. Getting along with others means first understanding what makes you tick and how you respond with others. Scholars throughout the ages have identified four major personality types and call them by different names. I like the animal names because they are simple to understand.
The Lion is the take-charge, director type personality. Lions are easy to spot and never meet a decision they don’t want to make. Golden retrievers are easy-going, loyal team members. Otters are outgoing, playful and will turn any occasion into a party. Beavers are process-oriented thinkers and always have a plan.
Any number of simple personality assessments give you insight into your personality. Most are online and free, while a few do charge. In reality, we are a blend of different personality types. Yet, one dominant type serves as our default personality in times of stress.
Understanding Their Personality
Understanding their personality, as in those pesky coworkers, is where things get tricky. If you’re dealing with a thoughtful beaver who loves taking tests, a personality profile may be right up her alley. However, a results-oriented lion may not see the value in understanding personality differences. He just wants to get the job done.
Most conflict takes place when one party or both fails to understand where the other is coming from. Bridging this gap takes a willingness to do the work on both sides. However, if you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t give a rip about personality profiles, the primary thing you should do is figure out your own style. Armed with this insight, you can at least do your part to diffuse or avoid conflict.
Don’t Expect Others to Be Like You
No two people are exactly alike. We are each wonderfully unique. Therefore, don’t waste time wanting others to be like you. Rather, invest time figuring out what makes you tick. Getting along with others starts with understanding yourself. Don’t worry about fixing the jerks. That ain’t gonna happen. Focus on understanding yourself and the relatively few close relationship in your daily life. (If you live with a jerk, we’ll deal with that in another post.)
Developing good relationships with those close to us takes hard work. However, it’s worth the effort. Getting along with others is not just for children. In the grownup world, our ability to understand each other and work through differences can make successful in life. Our failure to do so can lead to a life of turmoil. We can choose the easy road of bickering and fighting or the hard road of understanding and growth.