Have you ever been totally baffled by how differently people look at the same thing? Their inability or unwillingness to see what you see almost seems intentional or simply idiotic.

And, guess what – they probably think the same about you!

What possibly drives such totally different perspectives? How can people be so opposite of each other in how they look at things? What drives some people into conflict with one person but not others?

That’s the fascinating thing about human beings – we are so alike in many ways yet the combinations of how we show up are as different and diverse as can be.

Let’s take a look at three common ways that we are similar yet can be so very different.


The first is all about FEAR. Yes, FEAR! It’s the bedrock of our ‘drive to survive.’ What’s out there (real or perceived) that I have to be ready to run towards and fight or run away from in flight, or do I just freeze in my inability to do anything in the moment?

If we understand the dynamics of human behavior in how we communicate, we recognize there are four main styles of communication (take my SPICE Game and learn more). Each style has a different focal point, timing, way of speaking and expressing, and driven by underlying fears and needs.

For the extroverted, fast-paced persons, their pace is quick, fast speaking and fast acting while their needs are either about being in control or being included. Their fears are eithers about being out of control or excluded from what’s going on. The first will tend to get aggressive to take back control while the other tends to become more dramatic and emotional, demanding attention.

For the introverted, slower-paced, they need time to process what’s going and don’t do well when pressed in the moment to take action or make decisions. Their needs focus being right or wanting everyone to just get along. Fear is generated when being made to look wrong or when someone is trying to dominate the person or the situation. One will get combative to prove the point while the other tends to retreat in a state of overwhelm.

What each of the four communication styles focus on is different as well. Two of the styles are more relationship-focused (how is everyone doing) while the other two are more task-focused (getting things done).

Based on years of research, we know that we all possess at least a little bit of each communication style while our behavior and outlook tend to be driven by a primary style followed by a secondary style. And, how we show up at work can be different than how we show up at home. For others, there is a constant no matter where we show up.

Being aware of the context and dynamics around people and their behavior, particularly when in conflict, helps guide us in making healthy choices to uncover and redirect behaviors when they start to escalate.

You don’t have to be a professional mediator or psychologist to do this but instead develop a deeper understanding of some key drivers behind human behavior when needs are not getting met. It’s knowing what to look for and what to listen to. It’s about developing our Emotional Intelligence (E.Q) and not just relying on our Intellectual Intelligence (I.Q).

We easily react to what we see and what we hear. In fact, 93% of our communication has little to do with the message but instead of how we show up. We may be operating with preconceived biases (or attitudes), consciously or unconsciously.


Attitudes, or biases, about another person or an event can easily lead us down the path to making erroneous assumptions and instinctively categorizing people and external events based on what we see or hear. We all know what ‘assume’ means, right?

A quick example of ‘bias’ is reflected in the word “should” – someone may believe that how they see things or what should be done is the right thing to do, ruling out what others may see and that only their way is the ‘right way.’ Somebody or myself “should” be doing something different than what we see them doing. Sound familiar? That’s what we call ‘selective perception’ bias.

Another common bias centers on discounting an idea or an offer expressed simply based on ‘who’ is saying it. That’s called ‘reactive devaluation’ bias. We reduce or discount the idea (even a GOOD idea) just because of our bias or attitude toward that person.

And, yet, one more common type of bias – it’s a BIG one and called ‘confirmation’ bias. We attend to or are attracted only to information that confirms our existing belief or perspective rather than embracing an open mind on what can I learn from new and different perspectives. How can I look at the world differently, perhaps opening up new opportunities, rather than staying stuck in how we’ve done things in the past in ways that may not be serving us well.


Most likely, we’ve all been called names at various points in our lives, and often times out of someone’s anger. The childhood diddy that many of us were taught “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is probably the biggest mistruth in the history of human kind.


Why? Being called something, being labeled as something, often characterizes us in a negative light and one that we don’t agree or identify with.

Being called a name or categorized into a group of people is one of several common distortions called ‘labeling.’ Calling someone ‘stupid’ or ascribing a characteristic like ‘cheater’ or ‘liar’ to someone feels like an attack – these strong adjectives generally trigger a ‘fight’ response as they target us negatively as a ‘person’ instead of focusing on the behavior that’s perceived as negative. We form opinions or attitudes about this person that we tend to carry forward, clouding future interactions, relationships and shape our interactions with each other.

Another example of a cognitive distortion is an ‘all or nothing’ or ‘it’s either this or it’s that’ – ‘black or white’ perspective – no middle ground. This particularly drives what is called ‘high conflict’ relationships, problematic at work or at home, particularly destructive when displayed from a leadership perspective. It’s not a way to gain followers and commitment.


So, between our underlying fears, conscious or unconscious biases held about others, or distortions in our thinking, the reality is that they EXIST and show up in so many ways. THEY ARE THERE!

What can we do about it?

It’s about a commitment to personal and professional development, growing our E.Q. which has the capacity to grow throughout our lives…if we just let it.

Are you ready for better quality relationships? There’s no better time than now! You just have the rest of your life to live the life you want.

Ready to take the dive into deeper exploration of just who and what you are? Check out 3 Steps to MINDSET Shift to uncover your E.Q. levels, your communication styles and how you deal with conflict.