Do you find yourself arguing with your partner over a messy kitchen? Or perhaps feel frustrated because you are always the one planning your couple or family activities? Maybe you love to mingle at a party but feel irritated when your partner prefers to sit in the corner? Our individual differences can make relationships complicated, and when challenges, a differing of opinion, or a misunderstanding arises, resolving conflict can seem arduous.
It can be hard at times to stay positive in a relationship when you feel like your partner doesn’t understand you or is critical of the way you approach life. Over time, we can begin to take things personally and to react negatively when triggered by something said or even the other person’s body language.
The issues you’re facing could be related to how you each prefer to Think and Behave. We can take for granted that the significant people in our lives think and like to behave in the same way we do, or that the way we approach situations is ‘the right way’ to do so. However, when you consider that we are each the product of our genetic background and personal life experiences, it makes sense that the combination of these factors can result in two people who think and behave in very different ways. Our preferences can play an even greater role when it comes to addressing an issue or resolving conflict.
The Emergenetics Profile is a psychometric tool that assesses a person’s thinking and behavioural preferences. We all have the capacity to think in Analytical, Structural, Social and Conceptual ways and to be Expressive, Assertive and Flexible. However, we each have a preference for how much of our brain we give over to thinking in these ways and how we prefer to behave. When reacting automatically to a situation it’s likely that we will respond from a default position.
For example, imagine this scenario, you and your partner are planning a weekend getaway. Your approach is to sit down together and discuss possible destinations, pros and cons of types of holidays such as beach versus city break, which day you’ll leave and return, what airline to book and the type of hotel, who will look after the children and what structure needs to be put in place to ensure they don’t miss any activities. Your partner, on the other hand, is too busy at work to sit down and discuss this. He wants you to email him bullet points highlighting the options, how much it will cost and the brief rationale for the hotel. He has already envisioned the trip and knows that he wants to be free of plans and able to take each day as it comes.
It could be that you have preferences in Structural and Social thinking, because you think in detail, you like to have a concrete plan and follow a process with a start, middle and end. You’re thinking about the other people who will be affected by the trip and so want to ensure everything runs smoothly. Your partner, however, may have a preference for Analytical and Conceptual thinking. He thinks in an abstract, big picture way and wants facts, data and a logical reason for choosing the destination. He doesn’t like detail or to be tied down to set plans and wants to be free to do what he feels like doing each day.
If we also consider each person’s behavioural preferences, we can explore how Expressive, Assertive and Flexible they might be in regard to advancing their thoughts and taking action to achieve their wishes. So for instance, you may tend to like talking to lots of people and have discussed the trip with many friends already, telling them about your plans and sharing ideas for making it the best trip it can be. When your friends suggest alternative destinations you may be very open to their ideas and start researching ways to travel to the places suggested. Even if you’re not keen on an idea, you may keep that to yourself and listen to what they have to say about it. Your partner, on the other hand, may prefer to think the idea through alone and not talk to anyone else about it. He may have a very definite idea about the type of hotel he wants to stay in and will not be easily persuaded away from it, unless you come up with a logical and evidence-based reason to stay somewhere else. He intends to rest and relax and is happy for you to explore but may decide not to join you.
Clearly, you both think and behave in very different ways and this impacts every interaction you have with each other. Taking an Emergenetics Profile can be a great way of gaining personal awareness and understanding each other at a much deeper level as it creates an opportunity to share your similarities and differences and explore what this means for you as individuals and as a couple. It is a strength’s based approach to working as a team and can help you build strategies for resolving conflict by drawing on each other’s preferences and celebrating your differences rather than trying to fight against them. It can also help you understand why certain issues cause conflict in your relationship and help you find more successful ways to address these issues in future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Lamb, Psychotherapist, Mediator and Facilitator at Relationship Matters is a certified Emergenetics Associate and offers Emergenetics workshops and debriefing sessions for couples and individuals. The sessions can help you explore your unique couple and build strategies to maximize your strengths and approach challenges more successfully.