Use your differences to become stronger

Last updated 13:24 22/11/2012
Jane Butler Out of the rut
Jane Butler Out of the rut

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Difference comes in many guises, and can be tricky to resolve until we recognise that it is the culprit.

For example, there are often many ways to approach a task, but we may fail to recognise this, and expect others to follow the same approach as ourselves. Or we may feel stress when another person expects us to follow their approach. A person who needs to take 10 minutes to consider their next job may feel pressure if they work under a manager who likes to see action from the get-go.

Don't work to please others, because you never will. Be true to yourself, and you will get the results required and be appreciated for what you have achieved.

Many corporations get staff to take tests which help identify the way they work and their personality type. The very self-aware don't need an expert to tell them that they prioritise research, or that they are an "ideas person", but many of us need a helping hand to recognise ourselves and how to make the most of our traits.

If you recognise that you are a planner and that your life partner is a spur-of-the-moment person, your next holiday is likely to run smoother if you both talk about it and agree on a plan that suits you both (a couple of scheduled days and a few days to go with the flow?).

In the workplace, colleagues with completely different approaches to getting things done have to do just that.

At its best, difference allows us to bring an array of skills and ideas to a task. A group of people of different strengths who respect each other can deliver amazing results. Even differences which on first glance leave you disempowered can be transformed to your advantage.

A promising young salesman was frustrated by his boss's reluctance to let him develop in his job. What to do? He decided to be accountable to himself, developing his connections and taking opportunities for further education. Not only did he feel more empowered, but he had a lot to offer the next time he applied for a job. He went on to be a very successful team leader and advocate for creating opportunities for new recruits in the workplace.

Managing a relationship challenged by differences requires you to take responsibility for the outcome you want. Be clear about your expectations, and explain to the other person what it is that you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it. Get their buy-in before you progress.

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It also requires looking for the good in people, modelling responsible behaviours, and realising that there is always more than one perspective.

Contact me for further information on managing difference -

- The Marlborough Express


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