Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone you care about, trying to make the other person understand you, only to see by the look on their face that you might as well be speaking Martian? While there is some comfort in knowing you are not the only one in the world ever to feel this way, it doesn't help you much when you are in the thick of it with someone else.
Whether the relationship is with a friend or spouse, a parent or child, a brother or sister, or even a co-worker, the challenge is the same. How do you respect the other person's identity and uniqueness in a turning point conversation while holding onto your own?
In moments like these, it helps to remember that different personalities have different relationship styles. To learn how to recognize your style as well as those of people you know, take the following short quiz.
Whatever your personal relationship style, it is wise to remember that others may not necessarily be on the same wavelength as you at any given point in time. When communication stalls, remember that the person you are trying to reach may be focused on something different from the point you are trying to make. Imagine yourself in their circumstances for a moment, and let go of making your point long enough to truly see things from the other person's perspective. If you understand what is important to them, it becomes easier for them to see what is important to you. See more detail about each color below.
Running with Crayons, by Phoebe Fox
Have you ever attended one of those seminars that attempts to explain the people around you by dividing everyone in the world into four groups? Go to enough of them, and it can become difficult to meet new people without trying to decide which group they fall into.
See if you recognize yourself or anyone you know in the following colors:
Purple: This type prefers to work in groups rather than alone, and is good at reaching consensus and building coalitions. Purples make excellent negotiators. Tell a Purple what is important to you, and they will most likely remember it. Purples do not enjoy open confrontation in their personal relationships, and for this reason are more likely to be passive aggressive when feeling thwarted. Generous almost to a fault, Purples want everyone in their sphere to feel cared for and comforted. Purples tend to focus on others, and may feel guilty about rewarding themselves in meaningful ways. Purples thrive on humor, so if you have a difficult message to convey to a Purple try delivering it in a witty way. The laughs will get you over the rough part, and spare the Purple's tender feelings. Purples are highly compassionate and make good caregivers. Key word: Harmony.
Green: This type is most comfortable performing their duties proficiently and staying out of other people's business. Greens are willing to help, however, as long as the task allows them to use skills and abilities they already possess. Greens make excellent team members, willing to do their part fully without feeling the need to take charge. Greens love nature and the environment, and are more likely to consistently recycle than any other type. They are also the most likely to wear Birkenstocks or Earth Shoes in the workplace. Greens prefer everyone to get along, and will do almost anything rather than argue. Interested in how things work, Greens pursue several hobbies or activities over a lifetime. In a conflict, find a way to ask a Green for help and you will soon be on your way to a solving the problem. Key word: Individuality.
Orange: This type prefers action to contemplation, planning rather than waiting for events to shape themselves. Highly competitive, Oranges can push a conversation to the point of conflict without seeming to realize they are doing it. Oranges prefer people to say what they mean and mean what they say. Oranges also expect others to live up to a commitment and carry it out to the last degree. Fail to do so to an Orange's satisfaction, and they will write you off and color you gone. Oranges are devoted to the truth, as long as it is about the other guy. While showing little tolerance for the shortcomings of others, Oranges have a tough time admitting their own. Highly sensitive about their own feelings and abilities, Oranges are their own worst critics. Other people may make mistakes, but oranges prefer to keep theirs a secret. They seem comfortable admitting to an error only after they have a chance to correct it first, and then catch you making the same mistake. The worst thing you can do to an Orange is to discover a way in which they are not perfect and then point it out to them. Often perceived as intimidating by others, Oranges are exceedingly loyal, however. If you need to get a tough job organized and carried out quickly and efficiently, ask an Orange to handle the project. Key word: Duty.
Pink: This type gets along with practically everyone on some level, primarily because Pinks truly enjoy getting to know others. Pinks are good at conflict resolution because they take the time to know what is important to the other person, making Pinks able to present options for resolution that others will find appealing. Pinks seek to understand what is really going on, and in conflict they do not seem to care whose feathers are flying -- theirs or anyone else's -- in their headlong pursuit of the truth. Pinks rarely take things personally that do not apply to them, and they do not hold a grudge. Pinks have a knack for seeing through the motives of others, often leaving the other person feeling exposed and transparent. Pinks are excellent communicators with both the written and spoken word. Pinks are often extremely witty and intelligent, and will make any conversation lively. Pinks can quickly become bored with the routine or the mundane, so it is best if they have several outlets for all of that creative energy. Sometimes Pinks require help in learning to balance their creative abilities with other areas of their lives. Key word: Freedom.
While it can be amusing to see ourselves or those we know in such a clearly divided manner, the human spectrum is much too intricate and vast to fit inside such a construct. The true purpose of these tools is to open our own eyes to the differences between ourselves and our loved ones so that we learn to accept each other for the unique individuals we are without denying the other person their individuality and uniqueness. Our ability to understand and accept another's quirks and differences makes us more forgiving, with ourselves as well as others. Remember that forgiveness is one of the most difficult and challenging lessons for human beings to learn because it runs contrary to our baser instinct to exact revenge and retribution when we feel harmed or wronged.
Strong relationships are not built on high times, easy money, and plenty of excess. Steel becomes stronger when it is exposed to intense heat, tempered and tested. Relationships are no different. In moments of challenge we learn who will stand with us, and who will fold like a cheap accordion. Those lessons can be worth their weight in gold later in life.
This week, extend to those around you the stretched out hand of tolerance. Bestow upon them the grace of forgiveness when they disappoint you. Keep in mind that what goes around, comes around.
What we share with others, we call back to ourselves. And it works both ways.
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