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Getting on with different people - 4 differences that regularly cause issues

As I’ve written about before, in my blogs on perspective and relationship skills, we all have our own unique way of seeing things (perspective) and our own inherent ways of doing and saying things (communication and behaviour preferences). And we need to learn to adapt what we say and do if we want to have good relationships.

Because of this,

  • we find it easier to get on with and work with people who have a similar perspective and similar communication and behaviour preferences to us (minimal adaption required to understand or be understood).

  • we find it harder with people who are different to us. If we can’t understand or find ways to adapt and deal with our differences, this can lead to relationship issues and stress.

There are lots of behavioural and personality profiling tools available that can

  • help you increase your self-awareness, helping you to understand your own inherent preferences,

  • make the differences between people understandable and accessible, and

  • provide some strategies for dealing with the differences.

But based on my experience,

The single biggest thing that causes relationship issues, is the assumption that YOUR perspective is the only ‘right’ one, which makes everyone else wrong!

Aside from that one, here are

4 differences that regularly cause relationship issues!

These are all extremes on a scale, and my descriptions are sweeping generalisations.

None of these extremes are the ‘right’ way to be. They are just different. And everyone is entitled to be different in their own unique way.

As you read through, have a think about

  • what your preference is / where you might fit on the scale,

  • the judgements you might be making about people with an opposite or different preference (I’ve included some of the things I’ve heard people say!),

  • how you might change what you think, say, or do, to accept and work better with your opposite.

There’s a chance you may not have seen these natural preferences before, in which case you may find it difficult to believe that the opposite end of the scale from you is even possible…but believe me, it is.

And it could explain why you think some people are really weird!

1. Level of information

Headline – not interested in the detail

  • Likely to ‘switch off’ or get irritated if given too much detail.

  • May think 'detail' people are boring, wasting time on the detail or missing the point.

Detail – need details

  • Won’t understand, accept or be able to take action on just the headlines.

  • May discount 'headline' people’s opinions, believing them to be making snap judgements based on ‘thin air’.

2. Thinking preference

This often goes hand in hand with the introvert/extrovert scale which gives us more information about how we relate to others and how we feel about that.


  • Need time to process information and think things through.

  • Won’t be comfortable or do their best thinking in a group ‘brainstorming’ session.

  • May think 'active' people talk without thinking, hog the air time and don’t think things through well.


  • Like to think out loud, compare thoughts with others and bounce ideas off other people.

  • Won’t want to be left to think on their own and won’t do their best thinking then.

  • May think 'reflective' people are a bit slow, quiet or dull.

3. Motivation direction preference


  • Motivated into action by the thought of achieving what they want.

  • May view ‘away from’ people as negative.

Away from

  • Motivated by avoiding something they don’t want.

  • May think ‘towards’ people are overly positive/over-optimistic/kidding themselves.

Watch out with this one!

If you are trying to motivate someone with a different motivation direction to yourself and you use language that would motivate you, it is likely to have the OPPOSITE effect on the recipient!

4. Primary Interest

  • People

  • Process

  • Things

A strong preference in any one of these will make people with a different primary interest seem incomprehensible.

For example:

  • “how can they not know that would upset them?"

  • “why can’t they just do it the right way? how difficult can it be?”

  • “how can they not be excited about this?”

If you would like to explore this topic in more detail or you'd like to understand how I can help you or your team develop your relationship skills or find strategies to deal with existing issues, please book a free call to discuss.

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