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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Same need, different manifestation

When someone behaves completely differently, nearly in opposition to our own behaviour we tend to think that that person is being fundamentally different to us but is it always the case?

An interesting thing happened to me recently. I was supposed to go to an event with an acquaintance. Someone I know but not that well. We had agreed to go together and car share but without going into the particulars of how and when we would meet. A week before the event I asked this person when would be best for us to meet and also where since we were using her car and I didn’t know where she lived. To which she replied that she would get back to me.

As days went on I felt the need to organise myself and wanted to know about the details of our meeting but I was still awaiting her answer. It didn’t arrive before 10pm the day before the meeting.

It left me extremely frustrated. I tend to be very organised and I like to foresee things and plan them whenever possible. I also interpreted this lack or response as a lack of respect yet I didn’t say anything as this person was doing me a favour in car-pooling with me.

Later on though I would realise something pretty useful. After the presentation we had gone to see ended, we started chatting with other attendees and the subject of freedom came up. Quite interestingly my sidekick was sharing some information about herself. She said: “I hate organising stuff, to me it’s such a infringement to my freedom, when friends call me up and we have to set dates and times for things it really annoys me. I feel bogged down. I much prefer to do things spontaneously, unfortunately it’s not always possible”

What hit me in that moment was that I also carry a high need for freedom, yet for me it manifests with a need to organise myself because it frees me to know what comes next. I can then put it aside or forget about it because I have dealt with it.

So we were both coming from the same need but expressing it and living it in opposite ways. This reconciled me with her instantly and it also showed me that I had judged her in haste based on that particular behaviour.

She had not been disrespectful to me. She had respected her need for freedom. Besides I could relate to that way of experimenting freedom. I too - in other areas of my life - like to keep things open, unknown, instinctive and unplanned. Had I expressed to her my need to organise myself to fulfil my need for freedom, we might have understood each other better and sorted something out that would have suited us both.

It’s funny, I hardly remember what the talk was about that night, but this incident and revelation has stayed with me ever since. It taught me what the sentence “The behaviour is not the person” really means. I don’t think I had weighed its true significance before. It just goes to show that learning can occur at the most unexpected times. I hadn't planned this one, and yet it’s been very useful in the way I relate to others!

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