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SALT LAKE CITY — Relationships and getting along with others is complicated and messy. It’s messy because we are all so different, and our differences create uncomfortable, unsafe and threatened feelings, which can lead to bad relationship behavior, based in fear, not love.
When you are in a fear-based relationship where no one feels safe, this fear creates bad behavior and people problems.
Over the last 15 years, as a master executive life coach, I have found that human behavior can actually be very simple to understand. And when you get it, you can get along with almost anyone (yes, there are some people you may never get along with, but they are rare).
I have found most human behavior is driven by two factors: what you value and what you fear. These two factors are the keys to understanding why you and other people behave the way you do and why you struggle to get along with certain people, especially those who value and fear different things than you do.
My business partner Nicole Cunningham did 8 years of research in Australia and Asia that have led us to believe there are four value systems that drive most human behavior. These four systems of value, along with the two core fears (I talk about in most of my KSL.com articles) divide us into 12 different types of people, which we call the 12 shapes. These four value systems influence the kind of career you go into, the way you dress, the kind of worker you are, who you judge, who you respect and who you struggle to get along with.
See if you can tell which sounds the most like you. Here they are:
- People who highly value people, relationships and connection most. (We all value people highly, but these folks value social interaction at a different level than the rest of us.) These people love being with others all the time and they have lots of good friends. They love communicating and networking, and they like people who feel the same way they do. They often judge or dislike people who aren’t as friendly, socially aware or connected as they are. They could see people, who value tasks, things or ideas as broken, bad, unfriendly and even unkind because they don’t make people the first priority.
- People who highly value tasks, service, cleanliness, order and efficiency most. These people are the doers and they get more done than all the rest. They are hard workers, but they often judge and dislike people who, to them, are lazy, too social and talkative, undisciplined, messy or slow workers. They could see people, who value people, things and ideas as slothful, flighty, materialistic or unproductive.
- People who highly value things, creation, invention and stuff most. These people are tycoons, artists, inventors, builders or even hoarders and they often judge or reject people who seem lower class, not put together, unattractive or cheap. They could see people whose values are different as inferior and they might see these people as less valuable than them. They struggle to get along with people who value connection or ideas and don’t take care of their things.
- People who highly value ideas and principles most. These people often judge and dislike people who seem ignorant, have lower moral values, a lack of education or who are wrong in their opinions about an issue (because they don’t see it the way they do.) They could see people who value tasks, things and people as bad, unintelligent, or stupid, and they might see these people as less important.
Which of these four categories do you fit into? Who do you tend to judge and dislike? Can you see a correlation between what you value and who you don’t get along with? You usually struggle to get along with those who don’t value the same things you do. You may even lose respect for people whose values are different and you probably subconsciously see your own value system as the right one.
For example, I am a person, who highly values tasks and I often see other people, who don’t work as hard or as fast as I do, as lazy. I see people who talk too much as time wasters and I struggle to be friends with people who are too opinionated. I also don’t care much about my appearance and I can judge people who spend a lot of time and energy on theirs.
Can you see why you might not get along with people who value different things?
Think of some people in your life, who you do not get along with. See if you can figure out what that person values most. Is their value system different from yours? Does it threaten what you value? Does their value system mean they might see yours as wrong?
When you don’t get along with someone, it is generally because you don’t feel safe with them. The way they think or behave probably threatens you, who you are, or what you value. Because you don’t feel safe, you will subconsciously see them as wrong, less, bad or worse than you. You might also subconsciously look for bad in them and focus on it. There will be good in them too, but you won’t see that, because your ego needs to see anyone who is different as the bad guy. Seeing them as bad or wrong makes you feel a little safer and better.
This is behavior you must watch for. If you aren’t getting along with someone, take the time to look at why you might feel threatened or not good enough around them. What about them makes you feel this way? How is their value system a threat to yours?
Could you, instead, trust that all human beings have the same intrinsic worth and no one is more or less valuable than anyone else? Could you trust that each of us is having a completely unique, custom, classroom journey and see any comparing as pointless? Could you set aside better and worse, and just see them as different?
Recognize the world needs all different kinds of people and no value system is inherently better or worse than another. Seeing people and their behavior accurately will create more tolerance and acceptance. The more you practice seeing human behavior this way, the more compassionate and easy to get along with you will become.
You can do this.
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