Personalities differ. Some people are soft and gentle. Some are entitled. Some are cantankerous. Some are argumentative. Some are quirky. The list goes on. Some of the differences are culturally based, some are temperamentally based, and some are learned.
The variety helps make life interesting, and also sets the scene for conflict. What one person considers normal and completely acceptable, others consider rude and unacceptable. For example:
- Some people like to argue everything while others see this as an effort to get the last word and to be right, a way to dominate. Some find it energizing while others find it drains their energy.
- Some people think it is funny to make derogatory remarks, use sarcasm and otherwise belittle others. Others find this to be emotionally abusive and not at all funny.
- Some people will refrain from offering an opinion unless specifically asked. Others offer opinions freely and often.
It takes energy to deal with some of these differences. This is part of the reason we like to surround ourselves with people like us – it is simply easier. Avoiding people who are different, however, robs us of opportunities to learn and grow.
As always, if you are going to make cutting remarks, dominate or argue everything, it is critical to know your audience. If the audience doesn’t share your perspective, tone it down and honor the audience’s perspective. If someone has a problem (e.g. feels stressed, threatened or bullied) because of what you say or do, you are the problem.
If you are the audience and consider the other person’s behavior to be rude or uncomfortable, it is up to you to speak up and establish your boundaries. This can be uncomfortable, but it is more comfortable than feeling assaulted. You might say: “I am having trouble hearing your message – could you please …?” If the other person doesn’t respect your wishes, you can be a little more assertive and speak up again: “When you say [their words] I feel judged and belittled – could you please …?”
It is not reasonable to expect everyone will act according to your expectations. When this happens, remember:
- It is the individual who is not accommodating your wishes. Avoid blaming an entire stereotype or culture.
- You too may have to accommodate someone else’s personality. It takes work on both sides to find common ground.
- If someone insists on behavior or language you find offensive, don’t take it personally. Remind yourself that is simply their way and look for the meaning behind their words.
- If someone’s personality and behavior causes you stress or other negative reactions and they are unaccommodating, you almost always have the option of removing yourself. Simply get out. There are some people who are toxic and to be avoided – it probably isn’t worth risking your health and well-being.
The bottom line is that is good to try to befriend and work with an array of personalities. Be civil and manage your boundaries so you can continue to learn and grow.