Music artist Paula Abdul’s 1988 release, “Opposites Attract” (written by songwriter Oliver Lieber) couldn’t be more on-point in describing how two opposite personality styles really can attract. In the lyrics, it seems completely ridiculous that the two opposing personality styles of what seems to be an “I” and an “S” or “C” paired together shouldn’t repel each other (i.e. one liking to stay up late and party while the other prefers to be in bed early). However, there are many instances it couldn’t be more the case that opposite personalities actually do attract.
If one isn’t behaviorally aware, he or she might unconsciously repel the other style. For example, a “D” being verbally too pushy for an “S” or an “S” seeming too indecisive for a “D.” The “I” committing to do something, but failing to follow through and the “C” holding a grudge because the “I” didn’t keep his or her word when really the “I” just didn’t make the task a priority. Taking a DISC assessment or a course like PeopleKeys’ Intro to Behavioral Analysis as a couple will you to understand each other better.
As a couple, you should learn to recognize the strengths and limitations of each other’s styles, and learn how to flex your style to meet the needs of your partner. If you’re a “D,” consciously make an effort to slow down and speak to your “S” counterpart in a less “bossy” way. If you’re an “S,” put effort into making a decision without relying on your “D” partner to do it for you…even if they want to anyway. “I” styles, try to keep a calendar and make your person a priority if not the task. And “C’s” try to be more forgiving and don’t be afraid to give a reminder to your “I” counterpart. You won’t hurt and “I’s” feelings as much as when you give the silent treatment.
Most relationships fail because of poor communication. Awareness of your behavioral styles will help you better understand and communicate with each other long-term. Of course, there has to be effort from both sides, as relationships are not one-sided.
Communicate your needs to each other and learn how to respond to those needs. Compromise. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
I took some time to assess my coworkers and friends who are married or in a relationship. Almost all are in a relationship where there is a “D” or “C” task-oriented individual paired with their opposite “S” or “I” people-oriented counterpart. There are a few who have primary “S” styles, but differing secondary styles, which is not surprising since majority of the population is the “S” primary style (63%). What appears to be opposite for each style, when brought together in a relationship, is actually their unique and different strengths working together to create a natural balance and harmony. When asked what they appreciate about each other’s differences, here are some of the responses:
In these examples, you can see how one style’s strengths helps to overcome the limitations of the other’s. The opposites are actually a complementary match, and behaviorally aware couples know how to utilize the strengths of each other’s styles while being conscientious and understanding of their limitations. This helps create empathy within the relationship and also opens each other up to new experiences and ideas. The best part is that not dating yourself means you’ll never get bored.
Check out this blog post by Dr. Bradley Smith on Where Communication Takes Place to learn more about how each of the styles communicate best. Awareness of your own style and those around you is the key to opening communication for a successful relationship. Think about the strengths of the individuals around you and how you might surround yourself with people of different personalities than your own to utilize their unique strengths.