Jim Rohn famous saying that “You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with“. This relates to the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. Now, imagine if 1 person makes up 4 of those people. That means that 80% of your average is dependent on this one person. You better choose wisely otherwise you are likely to spend more time in Space than inside your home in this life time..! But, now let me give you a little different take on it.
I believe disagreements sometimes are a good thing. They challenge your thought process. They make you think differently. If nothing else, they make you aware of a different view of the world. One of the biggest problems facing successful people is that they are surrounded by yes-man advisors. They eat the masters bread so they sing the masters songs. When you have yes-man advisors, sooner or later no one will warn you as you head past the tip of a cliff . Because to keep you happy all they say is yes-yes-yes.
Similarly in your relationship, you must ensure that you do not have a yes-man or yes-woman life partner because then two people will be heading past the tip of the cliff. Now that we have determined that disagreements are a good thing, it’s what happens next that determines whether the disagreements are positive or negative, healthy or unhealthy. Let’s consider a case study:
Partner A: “I’ve noticed that you only call people when you need them.”
Partner B: “Really? Why do you say that?”
Partner A: “Well because you called Caroline only because you wanted some work done. Otherwise you wouldn’t call and connect with her.”
Partner B: “Yea, well maybe you are right. I only thought of Caroline because she is in that industry or in department. We don’t really connect otherwise. I don’t mind meeting and connecting with her, but we both are doing our own things so it takes effort to make that happen.”
See how the conversation above is not a disagreement. It is just an observation. It is a talk over how Partner A notices one of Partner Bs traits. And now partner A has not only made Partner B aware but realizes that he/she is aware of it. All healthy!
Partner A: “Well that is not a good trait to have. You should not use your friends that way!”
Partner B: “I did not use Caroline. I called her to connect one person with another.”
Disagreement begins! Notice how Partner A approached it. Partner B was judged. Most Partner Bs at this point will become defensive, unless they actually agree with the statement.
Partner A: “That reflects poorly on you. I do not like it when you do that with friends.”
Partner B: “Ok! Well I do not agree with you. Yes I thought of our friend and connected with her because of work but I do not see that as abusing my friendship.”
There is a clear divide here in the thought process of the two partners. That is OK! There is nothing wrong with having differing points of view! This is still healthy.
Partner A: “Well Partner B. I am in a relationship with you. I do not feel ok with this trait you have so you need to change it.”
Partner B: “Ok, well I don’t see anything wrong with it which is why I won’t change anything.”
This is where the disagreement can become unhealthy. Partner A has gone from observation to disagreement to demanding action.
Partner A: “I need to live with you. I need to feel happy about the type of person you are. You need to make changes.”
Partner B: “Well Partner A, this conversation is becoming tense. I don’t think I am doing anything wrong.”
Notice how Partner A is insisting. Notice how Partner B is making Partner A aware that the disagreement has become unhealthy. From here on the conversation can go one of two ways. Partner A and Partner B put an end to the conversation which has already become unhealthy because of the tension and let time calibrate their moods back to balance or the two Partners can dig deeper into their differing perspectives till the disagreement can potentially become a full blown verbal fight.
What kind of partner are you? Are you like A or like B? Maybe you are like both at different points in time. Just like reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets and can be lost in a heartbeat, your relationships, especially with your life partners, are fragile and can be damaged at the split of a second because of what you say, how you say it and how you react to their responses.
Never be afraid to disagree but never go down the path of making that disagreement negative and unhealthy. It will never be a fun ride when you go down that road.
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Get in touch… — JOE’s LIFE SKILLS LAB/Joe Sehrawat