How Can You Not Like Chocolate? Appreciating our differences
“Seriously, you don’t like chocolate? How is that possible?” Yet here was my friend telling me they really didn’t like the taste. I was confused and couldn’t understand how they didn’t share my love of of this wonderful treat. Have you ever been talking with someone and found out that they have a very different preference or priority than you? Maybe it’s around politics, (lots of that lately!) or religion, but it could be something subtle like the way you approach a problem or even how you do the dishes. I’ll never forget a story from one of my college friends. They told me how they were being attacked by their roommate for putting the toilet paper roll in upside down! I’m sure we all have a preference but I never considered one way right or wrong.
What I’ve learned and what I think is incredibly helpful to understand is that it’s totally normal to have different preferences and ideas than other people AND a large part of these personality differences is actually genetic. Some of us are very direct, while some are more reserved and cautious. Some of us prefer to focus on getting things done while others are more concerned about the people affected. I had a boss in my corporate job that would send me one or two word emails. I thought he must be upset with me. Then we took a personality assessment, and I found out that was just his style. He was naturally direct and action oriented. It had nothing to do with me.
I’ve been fortunate to have the chance to learn about the different personality styles. Here are some valuable insights I’ve gained:
- One personality is not better than another, although we like to think ours is the best. Each one is valuable with it’s own strengths (and challenges).
- We should first try to understand our own personality and understand how we are perceived by others. (You may be surprised how others see you.)
- We can learn to predict other people’s styles and what preferences they might have (like short emails).
- We can then adapt our style to better connect and communicate with people who have different preferences than us.
If you are interested in learning a quick way to get an idea of your own personal style and how to predict the style of others, check out this short article.
I believe that if more of us could understand and appreciate other people’s differences, we would have more peace in our relationships, our work, and in the world.
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is founder and owner of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping individuals and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.