After hanging up, I thought to myself “I don’t understand him.” I had just finished a phone call with the senior person at a company that was an important business partner of ours, and I felt frustrated, angry, and confused. It had taken us months to establish this partnership, but I felt that I could provide key insight into the reasons and help solve the issue. John, as we will call him, refused to listen or to cooperate with me in any way.
John was mean, grumpy and difficult to understand. John seemed to be a chipper, had a lot of anger at the world and was determined not to let anyone stand in his path. He seemed a lot like the hard-driving, take-no-prisoners self-promoter I’ve described before, good at making orders but not good at making relationships. On several occasions, I never saw him smile in person.
The first step in influencing people is understanding them, and I simply didn’t understand John. He was a difficult person to get along with. I tried to communicate with him for many months, but nothing worked. What was the best way to work with someone you don’t like? What could I do to work effectively with someone who I don’t understand?
Feeling defeated and helpless, I confronted my wife Carrie with this problem: “I don’t understand this man Carrie.” How can I help?
Carrie is the best person I know who can get people to get along with me. She immediately replied: “If he doesn’t get you, you will definitely never get him.”
There are people that we may not get right away, or at all. Everybody is different and it can be difficult to get along with people very different than ourselves. While it may seem strange that you might not be able to get along with someone you do not understand, this can often make a difference. It doesn’t matter if you have never needed to interact with someone.
As Carrie explained to me in The Art of People Step 1 is to deny that you cannot. You must believe in yourself, regardless of how differently you feel about a person, and no matter how difficult it is to get along with her.
You will be more successful if you are able to self-determine. However, this is not enough.
Carrie said, “Take him to coffee,” Carrie asked John about the man she was determined to marry.
He is a horrible person, I said.
Carrie stated, “Now you can see it as an experiment.” It’s an experiment to find out if someone else can understand you. Then ask questions and then listen.
Despite my protestations, Carrie’s advice was spot-on. John was my friend after just two weeks. Although I didn’t love him, after having a coffee with John outside his office, and being able to speak (and listen!) for only thirty minutes, it was clear that I could understand where John was coming. John was a difficult child who had lived with only one parent for many years. It turned out that he decided somewhere along the line to be independent. John, an Enneagram Type 8 was clearly identifiable. He wanted to be strong and could sometimes be abrasive, standoffish, and otherwise difficult to get along with.
John didn’t have any changes in his behavior after our meeting. However, a little understanding helped me make better decisions about my interactions with John. Our conversations became more friendly over the next few weeks and we made progress towards achieving the mutual business goals we both desired. A few months later, he even smiled at me in a face-to-face interview. The business and my relationship gave me most of what I desired.
If I hadn’t accepted the fact John wasn’t for me and just left it there, I wouldn’t have been able to afford that chance. Do you work with people who just can’t understand? What people do you meet on a daily basis that you just can’t get to grips with?
First, insist on the possibility of meeting that person. Next, you should spend fifteen minutes with the person and $5 for a cup.
It is possible to not understand the person or like him completely. You’ll still have the chance to make a better and more beneficial connection.
John, no matter where you may be, I wish you a cup of coffee and a smile.
- Note the names of three people you are struggling to reach in your life.
- After you have finished this chapter, make a commitment to ask one for coffee.
- You will be determined to meet this person at the coffee meeting, even if she isn’t your favorite.
Publited Sat, 28 August 2021 at 19:53:45 +0000