I met someone lately who I like and who, at the same time, has some behaviors that really frustrate me. He seems incapable of restraining his desire to speak, and he consistently acts in ways that draw attention to himself without regard for any other people present. In short, he talks too much, and he talks almost entirely about himself.
In speaking with him, I have noticed that he is very outgoing, and he seems to be highly concerned with relationships. Based on these observations, I would guess that his primary behavioral style is in the “I” quadrant of the DISC model of human behavior.
People with a heavy dose of “I” traits generally need (not want, but need) recognition, approval, and popularity.
Now, what do I do with these observations.
Option Number One:
Since I do not have much need for recognition, approval, or popularity, I can view his need to be liked as unimportant and ignore his efforts to get people to notice and like him. I can say that he is annoying, irritating, self-centered, inconsiderate, and rude. I could then move from that conclusion to decide that I should try to “shut him up” when we speak or avoid him altogether.
Option Number Two:
I can see him as a person with unmet needs who is crying out for someone to express an interest in him. I could then move from that conclusion to work towards developing a friendly relationship with him.
If I choose option number one, I protect myself at his expense. I ignore his needs, label him, and act in a way that probably drives him towards more of the behaviors that frustrate me.
If I choose option number two, I work in a way to meet his needs. If I am right about his need to be liked, acting in a way that communicates I like him could result in him listening more and speaking less. I might actually be less frustrated with him by changing my behaviors towards him rather than by expecting him to change his behaviors towards me!
Now, here's the cautionary side of this approach. If he really is a person with long-standing unmet needs, he may be like a drowning man gasping for air. As a rescuer approaches the drowning man, the rescuer has to be careful not to get pushed under by the person they are trying to save. In the first moments of contact with the drowning man, the rescuer may have to push just a bit in order to save both of them.
So, as I approach this person with the desire to show him that I like him, I may need to take some precautions to avoid getting “drowned” by his desire to be liked and noticed. I need to communicate clearly with him. I may need to set realistic expectations about our relationship and how much time I have to invest in working with him. And still, I need to do this in a way that does not communicate that I do not like him.
To connect with him, I will have to take some risks. I will have to risk the frustration of listening to another story about him that I really do not want to hear. I will have to risk the frustration of having him interrupt me or watching him interrupt other people. I will have to risk not being heard because he is thinking about what he is going to say next.
If I really value people, see the importance of relationships, and pursue my goal of learning to work with people even when they are much different from me, then the reward is worth the risk. I need to approach with caution, and I still need to make the approach.
Monday Momentum Message: Do you have anyone in your life that is frustrating and still worth the risk? If you do and they are “drowning” in unmet relational needs, find a safe way to make the approach. Beware of choosing Option Number One above. While it often seems safer and more expedient, it often makes the situation worse rather than better.