Did you know I share a bed with three men?
I thought you would be. But before your imagination runs away with you, you should know one thing.
They’re all my husband.
You’ve heard me talk about Chad.
And if you haven’t, my husband is the sweetest, smartest, sexiest man I know – who also makes me dinner every night.
If it were left to me, we’d be eating kale salad, gluten-free toast, and organic canned chili - which is fine by me, but not fine by Chad, and the reason he’s appointed himself the family chef.
(My mother thinks it’s abusive not to cook for Chad, but actually I think it’s the nicest thing I can do for him. Besides, I told my mom, I have other ‘specialties’ – and if you want to get your mom off your back, just start talking about THAT!)
But Chad comes along with a couple of quirks.
I call it IPD.
Also known as Irritating Personality Disorder.
And while this hasn’t been listed in the DSM-5 … yet, I’m thinking about contacting them with the secret trick I’ve invented.
IPD Case Study #1 – Chad
Meet Daniel Debater.
Daniel LOVES to debate … well … EVERYTHING!
No matter what time of day it is, or how tired I am, if Daniel’s got a stick up his arse about something he’ll start a debate with me. Even if I AGREE! And really, we DO think alike, so I’m never sure what we’re debating about.
I feel like telling Daniel to just go and join a high school debate team if he really wants an argument. But a 41-year old lurking around a high school would be creepy, and probably get him put on some sort of police-watch list.
And then there’s Ivan Information.
Who’s completely addicted to – guess what? Information.
But not on his own time. On our time. During a dinner conversation, on a walk, watching TV; if the subject of a movie, or an actor, or the population of a city comes up, everything must stop so Ivan can whip out his computer – or his iPhone – and Google said population or Wikipedia said actor in order to prove his point.
Now even though I’m madly in love with Chad, I’d love to kick Ivan & Daniel out.
But since a quirk-ectomy is impossible (and believe me, I’ve tried) I had to figure out a way to deal with the parts of Chad’s personality that I don’t adore.
So I named them.
And once I figured out I was married to three dudes instead of one, I’m prepared for their sporadic appearances, and know that if I play their game for a little bit, they’ll get the attention they need and retreat.
Just a few months ago, Chad and I celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary, and people often ask how we get along so well. Knockdown fights in our house are rare. Seriously.
Honestly, it’s because I’ve given the parts of his personality I don’t care for a persona that does the trick. I know they’re making a temporary appearance, and they’ll be gone in a flash.
And yes, Chad knows about his other personalities because when he engages in them, instead of saying, “Chad I’m not in the mood for that.” I’ll say “Ivan, I love how smart you are and really admire your quest for information, but tonight I really want to hang out with Chad.”
Learning to work with the IPD of your loved ones, colleagues, and friends is KEY to getting along with them.
Want another example?
IPD Case Study #2 – My sister
You see, my sister and I are very different.
: She’s super-crazy detailed oriented. To the point where she has kept notes of what she’s done every day since 1998. In her Franklin planner. Displayed in her office like best-sellers on her book shelves. INSANE!
(I’m convinced she’s plotting the perfect murder, and has been working on her alibi all this time.)
I’m big picture.
I can barely remember what I did five minutes ago, let alone what I did 15, years ago on November 18, 1998.
: Before she makes a move, my sister wants a fully drawn-up executed plan. Pie charts, spreadsheets, blueprints, the works.
Fly. By. The. Seat. Of. My. Pants. And. Pray.
Enough. You get the gist.
You may recall my sister and I are partners in our family’s commercial real-estate company, and when I was transitioning to my own company full time, I was also training her to be managing partner, and we had to work very closely together for 3 years.
The odds were stacked against us – we’re sisters, we’re completely different, and now we’re running a business together.
Were we going to fight?
This is the woman who would chew up a bite of apple and spit it out on my head when we were kids. Magic 8-ball said highly likely.
Until one day we sat down for a meeting. The meeting agenda? Name the parts of our personality that irritated the other person.
After 52 minutes we had new co-workers:
Hennie Pennie – Pecking away for every last detail, Hennie wants everything in its place, signed, sealed, triple-stamped, blind-copied, and notarized before she’ll make a move. Even if you’ve given her all the information you have, she still wants more. That’s my sister.
Anna Cabana – The breezy lady of leisure, spending her days strolling the beaches of the French Riviera, and her nights visiting all the finest cafes. Anna has big ideas, and can change her mind in a flash, especially when she has a better idea just a few minutes after the first. Anna does a lot of her dreaming in boring meetings, especially when the pie-charts come out. That’s me.
And then we knew how to deal with each other.
In a board meeting, if my sister thought for a second that Anna Cabana had shown up and taken a seat at the table (Yes Sheryl Sandberg, Anna Cabana may be imaginary, but she is sitting at the table) she’d give me that “Send Anna back on vacation” glare.
And when my sister needed some details, I’d get a knock on my office door and she’d say, “Erika, Hennie Pennie has some questions for you, okay?” Then I’d be able to take a deep breath, mentally prepare for the barrage of detail questions, followed by more in-depth detailed questions, and stay calm until the ‘interrogation’ was over.
In three years we never had one big fight.
(Although there was that time my dad heard us yelling at each other in her office, and practically banged the door down expecting to find his daughters rolling on the floor with fistfuls of blood and hair.
Instead, all he found were clothes piled everywhere. My sister had just gone shopping and we were arguing about what she should wear to a friend’s birthday party.)
This secret trick for getting along with anyone works! Every. Single. Time.
Have an IPD situation in your life that you want to deal with?
Here’s what to do.
First, think of someone you know who irritates you from time to time – and if you’re honest, it’s probably practically everyone you know – but we’ll start with just one.
And now concentrate on how you would really, really prefer to get along with them.
Then take these steps, and you can quickly & easily diminish the IPD characteristics that were previously bugging the crap out of you.
1. List out 5 reasons why you love this person.
2. List their annoying qualities that make you forget you love them (and recognize that while those qualities might irritate you, it’s those same qualities that cause you to become really good at patience, compassion, understanding, and empathy).
3. Give those qualities a persona. For example …
: If you have someone on your team who hums & talks to herself when the two of you are collaborating, you could name her Hummer Hillary the Great.
: If you have a friend – you love & adore – but also has a habit of poo-pooing your future plans and big ideas – you can name her Rain on My Parade Rhonda.
: If you have a mother-in-law who gets mad at you if you talk about your business too much, or scolds you if she catches you checking email on your iPhone at her house – you can name her Mommie Dearest.
When that persona turns up at the office, party, or get-together, you’ll know they are just passing through. You can hear what they have to say, give them a little attention, and let it go – you know the person you are REALLY fond of will return soon.
And if you’re close to this person, try telling them about their new multiple personality – who knows? Maybe they have one or two personas for you as well.
Nobody escapes IPD.