Take a moment and get a crystal-clear picture in your mind of a relationship with someone you don’t get along with. What’s it like? How does it feel? Think of the tug and pull you experience, and its impact on you to be part of that energy-sucking, life-draining interaction. Think of the blaming, the criticism, the defensiveness and ignoring that happens, sprinkled occasionally with sarcasm or even subtle putdowns that really kill the relationship and any outcomes you might hope for.

These competing relationships are not so wonderful, and you may even want to run for cover when you are engaging with people who fit in this category. You might feel manipulated, used, and squished from time to time, caught in judgment, and being judged. It may feel like there’s a constant “game” being played, although it’s not nearly as much fun as you would normally associate with any kind of game! It’s more like a stressful battle wearing you down, and you may feel as though you must watch your back all the time. Is this true for you?

Now, let’s look at its opposite, and replace that picture with the image of a relationship with someone you really jive with, someone who is as willing to give to you to you as you are to them, someone with whom you really enjoy working and being with. Think about how freely you interact with this person (comparatively), and when you think of “freely,” consider how easy it is to:

  • Ask the other person a favour or a question
  • Admit you were wrong
  • Trust the other person
  • Not judge yourself or the other person
  • Provide feedback
  • Be yourself (not pretending)
  • Play full out
  • Be excited at your time together.

If you are like most people, your second relationship is markedly different than the first and includes an ease that you likely can hardly dream of with the first person. Your complementary relationship likely includes a common purpose of some kind, where it is natural to think about benefiting the other through your work or way of being. You probably feel a sense of symmetry as though you fit together like hand in glove, like two puzzle pieces finding their connection and place. You may even wish every relationship could feel as good!

Let’s consider together how simple it might be to transform these challenging, competing relationships into the kind of complementary relationships you long for. Not that everyone can be your best friend, but that life is so much happier when you travel with others whom you feel connected to, and in a complementary alignment with. You have more impact on this than you may now realize! After all, as is true most of the time, the little things are the big things. Complementary relationships are built block by block, choice by choice, as you:

  • Acknowledge others for the things they do well, and freely share their positive impact (so they are aware of it)
  • Ask curious questions
  • Ask for clarification
  • Show compassion
  • Ask for help
  • Show gratitude
  • Be your sincere self
  • Refrain from judging yourself and others
  • Build on others’ ideas
  • Celebrate differences, especially those that are most unlike you.

As you look at this list, which ones are most easy for you? How might you begin to practice those in relationships with those who sometimes make you a little crazy? What if you could be the one to stop the tug and pull going on in the relationship, and help to bring about change? After all, if one side of the relationship equation changes, the whole relationship changes! Will you be the change you hope to see in the relationship? It may be the only way to transform your competing relationships into complementary relationships.

To learn more, you may be interested in downloading our free e-book, Dealing With People Who Make You Crazy found at: http://bit.ly/2yzrL8y.

This blog comes from the People Acuity Co-Thought Leader Community and is written by Tinus van der Merwe and Lisa Gregory.

Tinus van der Merwe is a Strategic Strengths Certified Coach, with an infectious passion for coaching and abundance of care for his clients. His 39 years’ experience spans a wide variety of industries as well as the non-profit sector in a wide variety of Human Resources functions. He has completed over 13,000 hours of coaching and facilitating solutions (over 1,000 hours of coaching alone) with clients from a wide variety of cultures and countries, from Specialists to Top Executives. His qualifications include BA Honours (Counselling Psychology) from University of South Africa and MBA from University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa, Co-Active Coaching Certification from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and Certified People Acuity Specialist from Strengths Strategy.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.