When someone has a conflicting personality trait, or doesn't do something the way you would prefer, it can be tempting to try and change that person for your own gain. Doing this, however, can lead to conflict, pain, and frustration, because some people don't want to change, and they shouldn't have to just to suit your own benefit.
Some would say that I am a very controlling person. I have had many experiences where I recognize a trait or idea in another person that doesn’t work well with my own traits and ideas. I have a habit of trying to change or adjust people, which is a frustrating and toxic habit to have. My current girlfriend (and poor ex-wife), unfortunately, is a recipient of this habit of mine. Vocally, I am a very expressive person. If someone annoys me, I will tell the person right away. If someone makes me happy, I will tell the world. However, my girlfriend is a very inward person. She will keep things to herself. I find this quite annoying to be perfectly honest, especially when it comes to romantic feelings. I would often tell her that I love her or tell her how much she means to me, and I never receive any vocal response from her. I have argued with her, become frustrated and angry, but it does not change, she still does not express herself vocally.
That's when I started to realize that she does express herself to me all the time, just not in a vocal way. She hugs me a lot or kisses my head. I realized this when I was washing the dishes one night and she came up and rubbed my shoulders without me asking. I was trying to force her to express herself, while she was expressing her feelings all along -- through actions. I realized that my girlfriend was not a vocal person, but that she shows her love in physical ways, such as hugging and kissing. Of course, I would love to hear her say nice things to me, but I now understand that instead of trying to change her, I must accept her way of affection. Her style of affection and showing love is no lesser than mine, it's just different. If I tried to force her to be more vocal, it wouldn't be genuine. This way, we both show each other how much we love the other in our own ways. Suddenly, my frustration was gone, I now felt more loved, even though nothing had changed except for my own perspective.
Another example, and the main reason I am putting this lesson learned on paper; this controlling personality trait of mine, is starting to show its ugly face at work. As a manager at our company, I hire, interact with, assess and fire employees all the time. I am starting to notice (actually, pointed out to me by a member of my team) that if one of my team members has a trait that I do not like, or that doesn’t mesh with my personality traits; or has an idea that I do not particularly endorse, I try to bend them (sometimes forcefully) to be more like me. This is very unprofessional managerial behavior. As long as a team member is competent at his or her job (and fits the company’s culture), I should not be attempting to change a personality trait that I don’t like, and a diversity of ideas is something I should welcome from my team members.
It can be tempting to change others, but it's a lot easier and less troubling to instead look inwards and alter the way you see others. If you are disappointed that your son or daughter decided not to go to college, instead of berating your child for their choice, be more accepting and nurture your child's decision making. If your friend hates going out to dinner, bring dinner to him or her and have a cookout at home. If your coworker has an annoying habit, just keep in mind that you also have many annoying habits. Finding compromises and altering your own perspectives will hurt a lot less than trying and failing to change someone else.
1 : Don’t try to change people just because they don’t think or behave like you.
2 : The world is supposed to be filled with diversity.
3 : Sometimes the only change that is needed is a change in YOUR perspective.Category: Change / Subcategory: It’s About Perspective
Tags: personality, conflict, conflicting, controlling, idea, express, trait, perspective, compromise, adjust, alter, alteration, change