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Episode 55: When Personalities Clash

podcast Jan 17, 2023

How do I deal with a co-worker when I feel like they rub me the wrong way when we interact? 

One of the hardest things on a team is when people struggle through the personality clashes that are inevitable when different people try to work together. 

Yet, the diversity of different personalities working together can create such rich perspectives and deep insight into a situation. 

But before you can benefit from that kind of diversity, you’ve got to navigate beyond the personality clash. 

You’ll need to find your own way through – but you can gain an awful lot of ideas from hearing how other people have done it. Thanks for asking me to share! Here’s a few things to think about:

Seek to Understand

The natural human assumption is that people think and see the same way that we do. Even though we might know in our head that’s not true, our behaviors don’t follow suit. We go into the default mode of our own personality and expect people to approach things the same way.  

The expectation that others will be like us and need what we need can backfire and create the personality clashes you’re talking about. Learning the styles and approaches of others on your team using one of many assessments can help you gain understanding and give each other more grace.

Once you have some understanding, then, go deeper with more conversation and asking more questions. The kinds of questions that demonstrate that you want to listen and understand to build a deeper relationship.

Initiate Relationship

When people don’t make sense to us it can be really easy to retreat or avoid. We can tend to create work-arounds so that we actually can sideline the other person from our experience. Who wants to deal with a difficult personality anyway, right?

What if you change the story . . . instead of avoiding or deflecting, what if you go toward that difficult person? If someone has offended us or frustrated us and we start to retreat we can begin to tell ourselves the story that they need to fix it and they need to make it right.

And while that may be true, if you keep telling that story over and over the personality clash will remain and likely get worse with some pretty tough consequences for the team.

Believe the Best

When we experience personality clashes, it’s really hard to believe the best about people. Usually things have been said or done that may be experienced as hurtful when personalities clash. The natural response is to see the other person as an adversary. 

What if we instead started to think about the other person as an ally that hasn’t yet been won over? Or a skeptic that might be able to offer a different angle or perspective that we might need to hear?

It doesn’t always work to navigate personality clashes on your own. Though, I challenge you to give it a go before you bring in others or create those workarounds that hinder teamwork. 

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