Do you view someone close to you as just plain MEAN or INSENSITIVE?
I know I used to. In fact, I used to think that my wife’s favorite pastime was yelling at me, that is, until I discovered the secret of “SOFT’ and “HARD’ people.
(More on that in a moment.)
I remember, during our first year of marriage, I was having problems with one of my employees. (I owned an ad agency at the time.) My wife told me to just go up to him and CONFRONT him. “Just tell it like it is!” She’d say.
“Yeah right.” I thought to myself, easier said than done. I HATED conflict and I still do. And I used to avoid it at all costs. I just wished my wife would understand how DIFFICULT it was for me to go up to someone and confront them!
I would much rather just let the “storm blow over’ and hope for the best.
Every day I would come home from work and she’d drill me, . “Did you confront John yet? I told you to do it today, did you?”
“Well..um..no.” I’d sheepishly say under my breath.
And that’s all it took. She’d just EXPLODE.
She’d scream at the top of her lungs as if I was 40 miles away…”I told you to, why don’t you ever listen, why don’t you get a backbone!?!”
“Blah..blah, blah, you’re a moron..blah, blah” is all I’d hear. I quickly learned to just tune her out and “ride out the storm.”
One of my wife’s favorite sayings was, “What’s wrong with you?!?!”
Eventually, I realized that my wife had lost complete control over her negative feelings. And I just wanted to get away, but that wasn’t an option for me.
All this yelling DID take a toll on me however; it drove me to find a solution. To make a long story short, I started putting together patterns of people’s behavior and I stumbled upon a secret that single-handedly helped me maintain my sanity.
And that secret was, The concept of Soft and Hard people.
Let me explain “in a nutshell’ exactly what it’s all about,
All people are either “Soft’, “Hard’ or what I call “Balancing’.
If you are Soft, you:
– nurture naturally – you’re sensitive – you’re warm – you’re thoughtful – you hurt when others hurt – you feel what others are feeling – you really do care what others think of you – you want to be accepted by everyone close to you – you are very uncomfortable with conflict – you put the needs of others ahead of your own – you care a lot; you can’t help but care
Does this describe you? If so, congratulations, you are a Softhearted person. And although these are wonderful traits to have, your greatest strengths often come at a price. The price you pay is a pressure you feel inside but others do not understand. It is an emotional pressure you experience during those little instances of daily life.
(Like the situation with my past employee and my wife that I described earlier in this email.)
And if you ARE Softhearted, the nurturing ways you’ve been comfortable with all your life are very foreign to another group of people.
This group of men and women are called Hard people and they do not accept Soft qualities like tenderness and sensitivity as a way of life for themselves. Their direct and at times, rigid ways result in treating Softhearted people with very little patience or flexibility.
Just as my wife did, and STILL does for that matter. But understanding WHY she is this way made a WORLD of a difference in our marriage.
But what you must understand about Hard people is that their way of life, much unlike Softhearted people, is one of determination, confidence and getting results. They want to get to the bottom line and they want to get there FAST, even if it means “steamrolling’ over Softhearted people (like me) to get there.
And let’s not forget about the Balancing’ person. These people are sort of a mix between both Soft and Hard people. They have often described themselves to me as “switching’ from Soft to Hard as different situations arise. It’s almost like they have 2 different personalities. These people can often relate to almost anyone because of their love for both the Soft and Hard traits. In essence, they are constantly “balancing’ between Soft and Hard on a daily basis.
So let me ask you again,
Is there someone in your life who is causing you pain because they are dear to you, but they often come off as INSENSITIVE or just plain MEAN?
If there is, I’m willing to bet that they are a Hard person, and you are a Soft person. Soft and Hard people are often attracted to each other because the other possesses traits that they do not have themselves. But more often than not, once they get to know each other, instead of being like “2 peas in a pod’, they’re more like, oil and water.
The bottom line is that neither Soft or Hard people are the “bad guy”. They just have very different ways and beliefs. The key is learning how to understand how each of them need to be treated.
For instance, if there is a Hard person in your life, and you want them to do something for you, instead of TELLING them what to do, try rephrasing your request into the form of a question.
Demands just make Hard people’s negative feelings come out. But questions are a non-threatening way of getting Hard people to do something because they like to be the one GIVING the commands, not TAKING them.
This little tip alone made a significant difference in one woman’s marriage when she stopped “telling’ her husband what needed to be done and started “asking’ him instead. (When he saw that his wife was treating him differently, he started treating her with more acceptance and patience too!)
If you’ve found this insight helpful and you want to learn more about Soft and Hard people, (especially if you are a Softhearted woman married to a Hard man), I highly recommend you read the book “Softhearted Woman Hard World”.
(But lately I’m finding that Hard men married to Softhearted women have been finding relief in reading the book themselves because they are able to finally understand why their wife’s ways are so radically different from them.)