differences, unconscious knowing

It’s not the differences in relationships that cause trouble, but how those differences are managed (or not). We are all different and so differences are a feature of all relationships, whether personal or professional.

As you know, difference can quickly become the tinder which sparks disagreement, and from there it’s a short step to division… and it’s consequences. We are only human, after all.

If you want a more harmonious and productive relationship, consider this:

  1. Accept the differences exist. They always do in all relationships. Recognise and accept them without allowing them to become judgments or deficiencies (as in “You are not like me so you must be faulty…”).
  2. Avoid contamination by ‘cross-complaining’. This happens when you tack your genuine complaint (“you were late for the meeting/you are untidy around the house”), onto something which is unrelated to the complaint ([therefore] “you don’t respect me/you don’t care about our home”). Extrapolating a simple complaint with faulty logic will contaminate the relationship, and it’s not honest.
  3. Agree how you’ll MANAGE your differences. This doesn’t mean attempting to persuade the other person to your way of thinking (see 1), acceptance of difference makes that unnecessary) or getting her or him to change the habit you don’t like. It means a new kind of discussion from the vantage point of your mutual acceptance of each other’s differences.

Old habits die hard, so you might struggle with this. Remember that old habits try and ensure their continued existence by coming up with reasons why you shouldn’t change. Ignore them.


I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


One Comment

  1. Ellen February 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Excellent blog Barry, many thanks.

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