As someone who is incredibly sensitive but also very stubborn, it can be difficult for me to compromise with people who have opposite personalities to my own. Recently I spent some time in France with my mom, who is very different from myself. I love her very much, however we have always butted heads a little bit over the years, since we both enjoy different things, and have a different way of doing things – which is completely normal! Through the years we have learned a lot, and found a better way of compromising with each other in order for us both to enjoy what we are doing and have a fun time together! I, of course, use these tips for people other than just my mom, but since we have just gone on holiday together, it’s a great example to use! We may have butted heads a few times during the trip, but we always find a way to get past it quickly, thanks to some of these things we’ve learned!
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
More than anything else, communication is always the best way to solve a problem. For example, when driving, I prefer advance instruction when getting directions – my mother does not. She prefers instructions immediately before the thing she needs to do. We had some difficulty at first when I was directing her and she was driving, however we got to the point where we communicated exactly what we both wanted, and we were able to best understand how to work together in that way. For other things, finding out the style of communication that best suits the person in question can also be useful! Some people love to text, others talk in person, and some are phone call people – judge the situation and person according to the style that will work best for them/you/the situation, and use that!
Take a moment to collect yourself
If you feel as though things are getting too heated between yourself and another person, and you just aren’t seeing eye to eye, step away for a moment if you can and collect yourself. I find that I can get quite frustrated and do not like raising my voice, and so when I feel it coming I try to step out for a moment if I can to breathe and rationalise what I am thinking and feeling. Be sure to communicate this to the person you are with, so they are aware that you are not storming off or crying, but simply collecting yourself so that you can re-approach the situation with a calmer head.
Find out what they need, and why
If someone has a different way of doing things, find out what it is that they need to do and why. By doing this, you can determine what the root of it is, and how you can best compromise with each other. For example, with the directional issue I previously mentioned, my mother explained that she prefers not to receive her directions too far in advance because when the time comes to turn etc., she may not remember and just needs the blunt ‘turn left here’ instead of the ‘when you reach the stop sign in a quarter of a mile, take a left turn’. Once we determined this, I was able to understand why my directions were not helping her, and found a way to communicate better.
Determine what makes them uncomfortable
One of the things that my mom and I needed to discuss together was what made both of us uncomfortable, and how to avoid that. For example, my mom is uncomfortable in the heat and sun, and so we needed to be sure that we avoided things that required extensive time under the sun without opportunities for shade. My mother also is not a fan of ordering her food in French, because she feels bad if she mispronounces it, and so I ordered on her behalf at some restaurants that were more French than others.
Find a middle ground that you both enjoy, and ways to do what you enjoy individually
For the trip, we spent a lot of time discussing what our individual and mutual interests were, so that we could determine what things we would do together, and what things we would do separately. It can be frustrating to find something you prefer to do that the other person is not interested in, but if you are able to find a middle ground that you both enjoy, and times which you can go off separately, it can really benefit the way you work together.
Accommodate for the other’s needs
This one is quite obvious, but part of what makes people more irritable and harder to get along with is if their needs are not being met. For example, my mom drinks significantly more water than I do. Like, significantly. I find I rarely need to drink water or have a snack to keep me going, but my mom needs to be drinking a lot of water when it’s hot, and once we determined that she did not have that during the first couple days of the trip, we were able to accommodate and buy some water bottles for her to carry throughout the day, which ensured she was not tired or dehydrated. This of course does not just refer to physical needs but also, in different situations, emotional, mental, or even spiritual needs. If the person who you are having a hard time with is not having their needs met, that makes it even harder for them to communicate with you, and can bring further tension into the mix.
To diffuse arguments; “okay, what can I do”
In situations where an actual argument arises, though it may be hard not to yell and get upset, it can help resolve it faster to respond to them with a variation of, “okay, what can I do to help/make this better?”. If someone is upset and visibly flustered, try responding with that, and you’d be surprised at how it can go from there! With the aforementioned driving issue, once I was able to collect myself, I came back into the vehicle and said something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, I needed to collect myself. What can I do to make this better? How to you need me to direct you?” and BOOM it was like an instant resolution surfaced.
If you need breaks, take them
Sometimes there are people that no matter how well you try to communicate, and how much work you both put in, you still cannot be around them for extended periods of time. That’s completely normal, and in those situations you need to do what is best for yourself, and find times which you can take a break from that person and refresh yourself. Sometimes it is as simple as putting in headphones and checking out, and other times physically being away from the person is necessary, so find an excuse to go off on your own – even if it is just to go buy a doughnut, use the restroom, or go take a walk. Know yourself and know what you need, and accommodate for YOUR needs as well as theirs.
Of course, there are so many other things to think about when communicating with others who are a bit different than yourself, but the key thing is to just keep trying to communicate! There is no way to avoid dealing with people who are opposite from yourself, so the best thing you can do for everyone involved is to take everything with a grain of salt and try your best. It’s okay if you get upset – we all do! Just continue to do what you can and work with the other person for the best possible outcome.
As the old saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work!