Is your boss your opposite?

By September 20, 2016December 8th, 2019No Comments

Opposites attract, and for good reason — we balance each other out. My husband is the ying to my yang. He pulls out sides of me I would normally not stretch to use. I do the same for him and that’s why it works. We help each other grow and gain skills we otherwise wouldn’t have.

You are drawn to people who have traits you admire and don’t have yourself.

What about your significant other: Do you communicate in exactly the same way? Or does one of you talk more than the other? How do you feel about networking situations? Do you find that one of you sparks up conversations with people in the grocery line while the other is mortified by that habit and wouldn’t do that in a million years? When you have good or bad news, are you busting to tell someone while your significant other prefers to mull it over for a bit before sharing?

Chances are you relate to some of these examples. You are drawn to people who have traits you admire and don’t have yourself. Those very behaviours can be great sources of inspiration AND of stress.

These principles also hold true in your workplace. Think about your boss, clients, colleagues or employees. Are they different than you in how they communicate? You likely have some similarities and hopefully some real differences.

You need those differences, as maddening as they can be.

Here’s the big difference between Steve and me: I’m a bit extroverted and he’s more introverted. That means that we absorb, process and communicate information differently. He needs downtime to recharge his battery; I need interaction with people to do so. He needs time to process information and prepare his responses; I’m comfortable responding quickly and off the cuff. He is fine with long periods of silence as he’s thinking; I enjoy bouncing ideas off others to help me find answers.

Both approaches are neither good nor bad, they’re just different.

Each of our communication styles has its strengths and shortcomings. For example, as an introvert, Steve sometimes makes plans that may affect me, without mentioning it at all until moments before the event. The result? I sometimes feel excluded and not part of the decision-making process. It’s an emotional disconnect.

On the flip side, as an extrovert, I externalize my thinking process and talk my way to a conclusion. This can feel like information overload to my introverted husband. If I offer comments or guess the plotline during movies, it drives him nuts (short drive, tee hee), just about as much as him remaining silent frustrates me and makes me feel shut out. We each have natural communication types that we gravitate toward.

The trick is knowing how to build bridges between the two.

Thankfully, we both have made that a priority. Do YOU make bridge-building a priority in your relationships, be they personal or professional?

That being said, it’s not the differences that brought us together. Nope. It was the similarities in life values. As much as we value the interesting differences, it’s the similar core values that bind us. We are alike in how we treat people, value family, work hard, and handle finances. We both are respectful and appreciate the other. We don’t take each other for granted. And we share activities, such as golf, travel and entertaining friends. We’re not sewn at the hip and do lots of things on our own. The key is that we CHOOSE to be together and make sure we have enough “we” time and activities to cement us as a couple. The same is true in your workplace.

People are different. You communicate in various ways.

What binds you together is your core values and those of the company. I’ve often witnessed people leaving organizations not because they didn’t like the tasks, but because they didn’t connect with the people. Their core values–the very things that drive the reason WHY they do what they do–were different. Core values bind. Personalities can be different and core values the same. It’s all about connecting with similar values. If those are out of sync, it’s tough to build an authentic appreciation for and relationship with others.

As a Workplace Communication Consultant, my credentials include being True ColorsTM and Personality DimensionsTM certified. I sometimes use these skills along with self-administered personality assessments to help my clients identify their personality types and preferred communication styles. In the debriefs that follow, when participants define themselves as being “introverts” or “extroverts”, I ask them to think about their significant other and to take a guess if they are the same or opposite. Almost without exception, participants figure that their partner is the opposite. Apparently, opposites DO attract. Nature does know best. We balance each other out.

Opposites really do attract!

Whether in personal life or the workplace, knowing how to recognize and celebrate both the differences and similarities is what builds relationships. The skill comes in knowing how. So tell me — is YOUR boss your communication “opposite”?

Until next time, here’s to better communication, better business, better life.

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Helping biz people find solutions to workplace communication challenges.
Better communication, better business, better life.

© 2016 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

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Workplace Communication consultant, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to connect with clients, colleagues, employees, and bosses, and how to handle workplace communication challenges to improve morale, confidence, and productivity.  Chat with her at , visit on LI at and sign up for her FREE weekly “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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