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Getting Along With People Who Don’t Act Right Like You

In Star Trek two heroes in-the-making, one impulsively intuitive, the other straining to be rational, recognize they can learn from each other. So can women and men. How do you react in a hot situation?

“A thought comes when it will, not when I will,” wrote Nietzsche. Emotions are learned shortcuts for deciding, based on experience. In an argument culture we have many cues to overcome. 

Some shortcuts destroy relationships. Frustrating as it feels we seem destined to repeat the self-sabotaging behavior. 

Other learned behaviors enable us to strengthen relationships and to attract opportunity. Here are some shortcuts. Using them we can recognize traps we set for ourselves and act from our strengths.

Don’t Repeat the Same Thoughts

When something bad happens your brain cascades through a web of past bad memories.  However you have reacted to difficult situations in the past is the habitual way you will repeatedly review the same facts next time. Yet you can’t expect to go down the same road and see something different.

Such over-thinking makes you feel worse. You become less clear-headed in making a choice to move forward – and out of the situation.

Recognize the Pros and Cons of Acting in Anger

Men are more apt to tunnel down into logic. Women focus on how ideas relate. Consequently men are more likely to act their way out of the situation.  Women are more likely to over-think and to verbalize their feelings, getting stuck in the situation. 

In anger, you feel certain that the other person isn’t acting right – like you. Simply recognizing these differences when you get upset with someone of the opposite sex enables you to be more understanding and less reactionary.

Side effects:

• Women are more likely to get depressed than men.

• Men act to get out of a bad situation. They leave, sometimes exercising to work out the tension. Others become violent.

What Men Can Do Differently

Men who practice speaking up for what they want and listening in the stressful moment – or after exercising to relieve tension – become more resilient in work and personal relationships with women and men.

What Women Can Do Differently

Women who learn to get in motion, by taking a walk for instance, are less likely to get depressed and create a Memory Rut to repeatedly sink down into immobility when something similar happens again. Thus we experience being resilient in stressful situations.

Women: Show Anger and Get Ahead

If a work-related situation makes you angry and you show it you get a different reaction, depending on your sex. A man who displays anger may be admired for his strength. A woman is liable to be seen as “out of control” and incompetent. So found Yale scholar Victoria Brescoll.

Here’s what we women can do. State the facts, not the feelings. Women who stated the justifiable reason they were angry have higher salaries than women who don’t describe the reason they are upset. 

Sadly, “Men could actually be hurt when they explained why they were angry,” says Brescoll, “Perhaps because observers tend to see this as a sign of weakness. I believe (albeit intuitively, as a woman) this is less likely in younger people and in an increasingly connected world where diverse people have more change of interacting.

It is never too late to change your way of thinking and feeling or to compensate for a physical or mental handicap, as Norman Doidge vividly explains in The Brain That Changes Itself. Also, to add to the unavoidable adventure of learning to enjoy each other we now know even normal people have many distinct personalities.

Prediction for living well in this increasingly connected world:

Next to using your main talent your most valuable trait for enjoying a meaningful life will be your capacity to get along with people extremely unlike you. As a journalist it took stubborn me a long time to discover that the biggest stories often came when I was able to connect with people who didn’t act right (like me).

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6 Comments

  1. Posted May 10, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Kare, thanks for a very pertinent article. I’ve been meaning to buy “The Brain that Changes Itself” and reading what you show here convinces me. Thanks goodness our brains have great plasticity and that we are able to change the behaviors you describe here.

  2. Posted May 22, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Robyn – as a longtime fan of your news-you-can-use blog (just quoted you today and linked to you on FB) I appreciate your feedback. And this book on the brain is practical and offers great insights on how, with knowledge and practice, make compensating improvements.

  3. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Kare, thanks for a very interesting and relevant article. The main message it carries -“Prediction for living well in this increasingly connected world: …..The biggest stories (Acting like a journalist) often came when I was able to connect with people who didn’t act right(like me)”, is more than revealing. It is a fantastic insight. Going through all this information treasure,I also decided to purchase N.Doidge’s book -“The Brain that Changes Itself”. I learned from what I read, that intellectual giants like Robyn McMaster and I assume Dr. Ellen Weber will also rewire their still plastic brains. It is curious to know what Nancy C. Andereasen, who wrote the highly successful book -“The Creating Brain-The Neuroscience Of Genius”, thinks on the raised issues? Kurt Vonnegut defines her as one of the most creative persons of our time. It strikes me that Dr.Weber and Robyn are such an inventive and creative team that it is perfectly possible for them with your lifting support to make “Philosophy bake bread” as W. Churchman and Russell Ackoff defined their goal 50 years ago.
    Since you apparently are so involved in brain research and creative systems of thought, I would be happy to hear your opinion on:Lessons Learned – Why the Failures of Systems Thinking Should Inform the Future of Design Thinking? After all it is obvious that design and “design thinking” is gaining recognition as an important integrative concept in management practice and education.

  4. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Kare, thanks for a very interesting and relevant article. The main message it carries -“Prediction for living well in this increasingly connected world: …..The biggest stories (Acting like a journalist) often came when I was able to connect with people who didn’t act right(like me)”, is more than revealing. It is a fantastic insight. Going through all this information treasure,I also decided to purchase N.Doidge’s book -“The Brain that Changes Itself”. I learned from what I read, that intellectual giants like Robyn McMaster and I assume Dr. Ellen Weber will also rewire their still plastic brains. It is curious to know what Nancy C. Andereasen, who wrote the highly successful book -“The Creating Brain-The Neuroscience Of Genius”, thinks on the raised issues? Kurt Vonnegut defines her as one of the most creative persons of our time. It strikes me that Dr.Weber and Robyn are such an inventive and creative team that it is perfectly possible for them with your lifting support to make “Philosophy bake bread” as W. Churchman and Russell Ackoff defined their goal 50 years ago.
    Since you apparently are so involved in brain research and creative systems of thought, I would be happy to hear your opinion on:Lessons Learned – Why the Failures of Systems Thinking Should Inform the Future of Design Thinking? After all it is obvious that design and “design thinking” is gaining recognition as an important integrative concept in management practice and education.

  5. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Kare, thanks for a very interesting and relevant article. The main message it carries -“Prediction for living well in this increasingly connected world: …..The biggest stories (Acting like a journalist) often came when I was able to connect with people who didn’t act right(like me)”, is more than revealing. It is a fantastic insight. Going through all this information treasure,I also decided to purchase N.Doidge’s book -“The Brain that Changes Itself”. I learned from what I read, that intellectual giants like Robyn McMaster and I assume Dr. Ellen Weber will also rewire their still plastic brains. It is curious to know what Nancy C. Andereasen, who wrote the highly successful book -“The Creating Brain-The Neuroscience Of Genius”, thinks on the raised issues? Kurt Vonnegut defines her as one of the most creative persons of our time. It strikes me that Dr.Weber and Robyn are such an inventive and creative team that it is perfectly possible for them with your lifting support to make “Philosophy bake bread” as W. Churchman and Russell Ackoff defined their goal 50 years ago.
    Since you apparently are so involved in brain research and creative systems of thought, I would be happy to hear your opinion on:Lessons Learned – Why the Failures of Systems Thinking Should Inform the Future of Design Thinking? After all it is obvious that design and “design thinking” is gaining recognition as an important integrative concept in management practice and education.

  6. Posted October 12, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Rick Kirschner
    Thanks for telling me that commenting here did not work + let’s consider this a test

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