Why we need people like us

It is probably sensible to start by spelling out there is every possibility this blog post could fly in the face of every piece of scientific research on the matter. This is very much based on my own personal experience and I would recommend listening to the science.

The “like us” part of the blog post title is a reference to Merrill and Reid’s four social styles, and not whether we both like Game of Thrones. Although liking Game of Thrones is a conversation starter with nearly any complete stranger.

Back to Merrill and Reid. I am very much an Amiable social style.

I am very much an Amiable social style and the issue underpinning this blog post is, unsurprisingly, conflict.

It is probably not appropriate to discuss the specifics, but I am having coaching around an ongoing issue at work. An action I took from my first coaching session was to speak with a colleague. I perceived this action to be conflict, but I need to have this conversation to be able to progress. However I ‘wimped’ out when I had the opportunities and entered my second coaching session having not spoken to my colleague.

My coach challenged me on why I hadn’t had this conversation (it is worth nothing I did ask my coach to be challenging where she saw it appropriate). I didn’t have any answer and when pressed to give an answer, I admitted that I was just making up excuses and reasons not to have this conversation.

My coach is a Driver social style and well versed in Merrill and Reid. She is adapt at changing her coaching style and so understood why I had not had this conversation. It was not a telling-off and part of the purpose of the coaching it to help me overcome this particular issue at work. I did not expect it to be a walk in the part.

It was a bit of a light-bulb moment for me though. My coach wasn’t wrong, but while she understood the reason why I hadn’t spoken with my colleague – that I am Amiable and don’t like conflict – she didn’t really understand the reason.

…she understood the reason but didn’t really understand the reason…

This type of conversation would likely come quite naturally to my coach. It doesn’t for me, there is something intangible, something that is impossible to explain until you know what it is and experience it.

A friend who is similarly Amiable is also having coaching and having a similar issue with an action that involves a difficult conversation. We joked that we are both useless at this type of thing, which is true. My friend actually understood why I had avoided this conversation, she knows what this intangible undefinable reason is even though it is impossible to put into words.

I need to have this conversation with my colleague to overcome the issue I am experiencing. I know that. But talking to my friend made it okay. Sometimes you just need to speak with people who are like you. You need people and friends who can understand because they can relate on a personal level.

…you need people who can understand because they can relate…

I highly doubt this is specific to people like myself and my friend who are an Amiable social style. People with a Driven social style likely need to be able to speak with people who can relate to the reasons why they make decisions or act in the manner they do.

There are many self-help books and techniques which I feel almost promote letting go to wanting this connection. But personally I disagree. Sometimes we just need to be able to hide where we feel most comfortable. Being able to talk to people who can relate in a way other people are not able to. It’s making sure we stay connected to who we really are at that moment in time.

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