Sometimes, We just Don’t Go Together Like Peanut Butter & Jam


It happens.

We meet people.

We fall in love.

We may just meet a new friend.

Co-workers, bosses, subordinates, anywhere and everywhere we go, we relate or don’t.

People insinuate themselves in our lives, times marches on and we go from “brand new” to married, best friends, professional relationships, etc…

We develop expectations with the relationship, unspoken or spoken.

Do we speak the same language? Are we peanut butter and jam or are we peanut butter and parsley?

When we aren’t peanut butter and jam or peanut butter & peanut butter or whatever your taste, we run into problems. We may do what we can over and over, but nothing seems to change…the same issues remain, while we wait for the other person to “get it.”

They don’t, or perhaps, they twist themselves into a pretzel and become what we want….temporarily. We just ain’t relating where we’re understood.

What does this apply to:

1. Dating. When we’re dating we want to meet someone who gets us, that we’re attracted to, etc…and sometimes we meet someone who we’re physically attracted to, but who we might butt heads with…and we think, “Ok, I like these qualities, but can’t stand those other qualities, so I’ll settle right here.” This pile of undesirable qualities may include ways of understanding someone that differ; meaning I have a filter for my view of reality and what works for me…and so do you. They may be different and remain different, based on how we each receive information.

We try to make peanut butter and ham work, but we’re forever speaking different languages. What we ignore in the beginning, comes back to haunt us.

The same applies when someone disappears. Do we need to take it personally? Nope. The person who disappeared may have thought it was more like a peanut butter and asparagus sandwich rather than peanut butter and jam. They’ve saved us a painful road ahead and wouldn’t it be great to build a better sandwich with someone who’s ability to receive and deliver information is closer to our own?

2. Business “On the Job.” We don’t usually get to choose the people we work with, unless of course, we’re in charge of hiring. Sometimes, it becomes clear very rapidly that someone is difficult for us to communicate with…and perhaps, we think they’re wrong and we’re right. We may think they’re a jerk or some other label, which is one-dimensional. It’s not necessarily true, they may have a completely different perception on “everything” or items of “critical” importance than how we see it.

We may be stubborn and they may match us. It’s usually a great idea to notice the differences and try to understand them, as we would if we just landed in a country and didn’t understand the language. Have a conversation about neither being wrong, but each style being different….and then see what naturally comes about. There are times, that no matter how talented someone is, it’s peanut butter and liverwurst…the environment really doesn’t suit them and there’s no flexibility.

If we’re the one hiring, it’s prudent to recognize if we ask someone to perform a task and it always comes back incorrect or done differently than asked, that we need to take a deeper look rather than get angry.

The subordinate may be trying very hard to fulfill the request, but hears us through their filters. They may have heard us differently or imagined what we’re saying to need to be formed into what they can understand and do. It then becomes a challenge, because two languages are spoken and as the boss, a decision must be made to figure out if the “way” of doing something is worth trying to train the individual or letting go to find someone who speaks the same language.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t work on bridging a gap, but sometimes it’s better to recognize the relationship is the type of work that is so draining, it creates a value deficit.

3. Friends/Family. There are friends for a different reason, season or a lifetime, right? Family….we’re pretty much without choice…but we can choose how we approach them. There are always going to be relationships in which we don’t see eye to eye, but why beat that person up or ourselves? It’s pointless and solves nothing. If we stop and really listen to what someone is saying, we can understand what they’re trying to do. Meaning, if someone felt invisible in the family, perhaps they’re insinuating themselves in the middle of everyone’s business, so as not to be left out or the person who has an opinion that is out in left field may be trying to prove that they aren’t enough.

If we listen, we can really hear….and not that it takes one person to make a great sandwich, but we can find our common bond, our link to one another….if we really pay attention. It’s not to say that we can speak in everyone’s language, but we can begin to not take others personally and realize they’re doing the best they can too. 🙂

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