The Most Common Problem

Over the years, the most common challenge that I’ve found in at least 80% of all close relationship is that people fail to appreciate and accept how innately different they are from others.

Whether at home, among close friends, at work, in a church, or in any other organization, differences in perspectives, priorities, and personal procedures often pit one person’s ideas against another’s ideas.

As a result of failing to understand and coordinate these differences, arguments occur, communication breaks down, and important relationships are severed.

Signs of Differences

Whenever and wherever I meet people, I can immediately guess what their differences are. Clues are found in questions such as, “Why does he or she do things this way?” Another clue is when they begin to cite numerous examples of how they think and do things differently than the other person, and act as if it’s the other person who is selfish or wrong.

Here’s an example of what this looks like. In an old and mostly forgettable movie, Steve Martin uses Planes, Trains and Automobiles to get home. Each mode is different. Automobiles do not fly very well, no matter how hard we try. Planes are terribly bulky, and do not navigate very well on a freeway let alone fit into most garages. And a Train is not very flexible; it must keep on a restrictive pathway, and cannot turn suddenly or stop at the grocery store or in the driveway. Each mode has design limits that we recognize and accept. Neither with wishful thinking or complaints can we alter much of the innate design of a plane, a train or an automobile.

People who are in close relationships with us are also limited by the design features and characteristics they (we) were born with, just as we’re limited by those we’re born with.

Accept One Another

My first advice is that we accept that each of us is different from the other. We are different in how we perceive things, how we react and plans things, and how different we prefer things to go in a way we personally like.

Just like you are sincere in how you desire things to fit in your life, so too, is your spouse, partner, child, friend, colleague and boss has their preferred vision and style, too.

Coordinate with One Another

To overcome differences and potential conflicts, it is important to accept each other, not reject the other for being different. This means recognizing your differences in perspective and each individual’s preferred way of doing things.

I have found that by discussing things in a curious and open minded way, people begin to understand and trust the other person better. Then I encourage individual people to coordinate things that bring each of your points of view, strengths, and needs together in a unifying way.

If you need help communicating with your partner, spouse, child or anyone else in your life, make an appointment today. Call or email me, Douglas Frey Ph.D. (952-920-2789) for help with your relationships and relationship problems. I am a licensed Christian counselor serving individuals and families in Eden Prairie and nearby Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee, Minneapolis and other Western Suburbs.