same and different relationships

iceberg_under_water

As human beings we are drawn towards people because of similarity, or sameness, and because of difference.

There are no rules about how much of each.  No guidance about the levels or attributes of the sameness and difference, but seemingly we seek a smattering of both. A balance. Not equal, but a balance nonetheless.

For a relationship to become more than just there for a transitory reason, a casual acquaintance or one formed for a specific work project or short term activity or hobby we need sameness and difference. We may circumvent this need in the short term. We can cope. Make adjustments. The temporary nature of the relationship maybe allows us to be more forgiving, or maybe we simply don’t care as much? Or maybe there isn’t actually a relationship at all?

However, for longer term relationships, working harmoniously together, a need for sameness and difference emerges if the relationship is to blossom and last. Maybe the sameness can come from shared values, shared goals? Maybe a similar posture to work – being a completer/finisher, or having an attention to detail? Maybe the sameness comes from a shared philosophy on life, or from similar hobbies or lifestyle? Maybe the sameness simply comes from being an early morning starter? These are not of course, solely the criteria for sameness. They may equally apply to difference. A big picture thinker may connect with a detail deliverer, and vice versa. Someone with a different philosophy or orientation to life may value the difference of another perspective (many mentoring relationships work well in this way).

So there are no ‘rules’.  There is no formal contract. No tacit agreement. Not even a verbal contract… or even a discussion.  Often not even a conscious awareness.  Like many uses of the ‘iceberg’ analogy, this is all below the surface.  Invisible. We just somehow know.

And maybe like an iceberg, that brings dangers?

Maybe we should surface this more in relationships?

time to turn around?

image

There’s a lane near us that often closes due to flooding.  It’s a nuisance, but when it’s shut we have to drive around to get to our destination.  There are several alternatives, but each is a longer route.

We just do it though. We don’t go back home and say, “Oh well, no going to the shops today.” Nor do we drive down the lane and stop at the point where the water has risen to a foot deep, park up, and say, “We’ll wait for the floodwater to subside.”

We don’t even think about it. We turn around and try a different route.

Today in a meeting, we got stuck. We set out to achieve something as a group and every suggestion fell on stoney ground, or everything we tried seemed to move us no closer to our objective. Yet we persevered. The mood in the room became flat. Frustration emerged. Disagreements rose up like unwanted nettles in the garden. It took us nearly an hour for someone to ask, “Why are we finding this so difficult?” This gave someone else the opportunity to say, “Let’s try something different.” So we did. Completely different. And we made progress.

Strange that when our route is blocked physically, we instinctively and immediately detour. Yet when our thinking is blocked, we bash on, stubbornly persisting with our thinking. Getting further stuck as emotions then bind us up like creepers around our feet.

Turn around. Go another way.

 

wonky is in

IMG_2233

We were browsing a farm shop the other weekend.

I stumbled upon this crockery.  I confess to quite liking it.  Its quirkiness. Its imperfection. Its originality.  Off-set bowls, bendy plates…

Strange how ‘wonky’ is on trend again.  For years our supermarkets have discarded imperfect fruit and vegetables so that we only get straight carrots, nicely shaped ‘nodule-free’ potatoes, uniform apples.  Now, suddenly, it’s OK to have twin parsnips joined at the hip or a slightly more bent cucumber.

Wonky crockery. Wonky fruit and vegetables.

I wonder if we can begin to embrace wonky people?

Wonky because they look different? Wonky because they believe different things? Wonky because they have disabilities? Wonky because they have abilities we (society) forget to value? Wonky because they don’t conform to the cookie cutter of acceptability?

the balance of both?

change routine balance
A change is as good as a rest, so the saying goes. But we are creatures of habit, so says another familiar saying.

So which?

Most of us like to experience something new from time to time. Something different. The first time experience is life affirming. It is growth. It is learning. It brings excitement. Anticipation. We holiday in new locations, learn a new skill, see a new band live, buy a new outfit, change our job. Change injects adrenaline. Gives us a buzz. We seek it to bring interest, to force movement, to drive personal growth.

Yet we also like routine. We like the familiar. Something predictable. Solid. Grounded. There is great joy in revisiting a memorable place again, enjoying a favourite meal, wearing that familiar shirt, replaying that special album track. In fact routine structures our lives. We rise at the same hour, dress, shower and breakfast in the familiar sequence. We travel to work the same route at the same time. Regular meetings. Story time, bath time, bed time.

Change and consistency. New and familiar. Spontaneity and routine.

Maybe we are creatures of contrast? Maybe that’s the habit?

all the same, uniquely different

Uniquely different
I have recently been meeting someone with dyslexia.

At the time of our first meeting, they had only told a handful of people in the world. We have now spoken four or five times and I have noticed some things on the journey.

There is a strong desire not to be treated differently, not to be marked out in some way as needing help. With that comes a fear of judgement. As if by being seen, belonging will be denied – a kind of ostracism from normality, from humanity.

We have researched the number of people in society with dyslexia. I have spoken to them about the idea of neurodiversity. Still belonging … to the rich soup of humanity. After all, who is to say what is ‘right’, just the majority?

Recently they confided to me of a plan to tell some colleagues at their place of work. A huge step. Taking the number of people who would know, almost to double figures. Afterwards, we met and I asked how it went.

In the conversation they had given examples to their team of how to get the best out of them and some things not to do – for example, don’t give me a fifteen page document to read in the next hour.

I was struck again by their world view that this was just them, needing a special way of interacting. Almost apologetic.

I pointed out we all have preferences for working, for relationships. How another person’s words, actions, behaviours can either encourage us, inspire us, make us feel comfortable or enable us to be at our best. Equally words, actions behaviours can have an opposite effect.

I, for example, struggle when I’m not given, or allowed to find, a reason for something – a purpose, a bigger connection. Also, if someone asks me to do something and then tells me how to do it – I get frustrated, angry even, which them obstructs me from being at my best.

My dyslexic friend seemed surprised, but somehow relieved.

It’s a strange phenomena to me that we still find it hard to just say – this is me, this is how I work, this is what I need. Instead we follow a path of assumption, of judgement, of misinterpretation, of struggle.

We’re all the same, just uniquely different.

Digital art by BuestRose