Talking Past Each Other
1. How do you formulate beliefs from new information? Do you like to gather as much information and detail as you can to feel confident in coming to a conclusion? Are you comfortable coming to conclusions by piecing together “key” information that creates a pattern
2. Do you initiate conversations with strangers and feel energized by being with other people most of the time?
3. Are you annoyed if someone interrupts you when you’re concentrating on something you’re working on?
4. Do you avoid conflict?
5. Are you comfortable fighting for what you believe in?
6. Are you comfortable with ambiguity?
7. Do prefer deadlines to projects that are open-ended?
There are no right or wrong answers, but answers to those and other similar questions distinguish between several fundamental and universal personality characteristics. Unfortunately, compatibility issues, conflict, and communication problems often arise within couples when they are not aware of perfectly normal personality differences and how they can be bridged.
I’ve seen so many couples in which personality characteristics (within normal limits) lead to conflict simply because the couple takes personally, differences in the way each processes information, or what criteria each uses to make decisions.
That’s why I often use personality inventories to help members of a couple understand that some of the differences they experience (and dislike) are “baked in” and are universal – not to be taken personally. Instead, I teach the couple about the effects of their differences and what can be done to “reduce the irritation.” Usually, awareness of difference and application of simple strategies allows couples to live with personality differences, and without compatibility issues, conflict, or communication problems.
Home really can be a place one enjoys rather than avoids.