Mismatchers are the folks who always take the opposite side of the discussion and will argue with anyone about anything. These are the folks who dis others, make snide comments, or belittle the work or beliefs of others. We see the behavior everywhere on social media, from the supposed gooroo whose cool angle is to diss everything he comes into contact with. Or the cantankerous negative commenter who is out to prove everyone else is wrong and they are oh so right.
For most of my life I thought such behavior was the result of bad manners, bad breeding or just plain stubbornness or an unworthiness complex the size of Manhattan. After all, most of us were taught to be polite and respectful of others, especially in public forums. Thanks to neuroscience, I know understand the program running behind that cantankerous response.
The Meta-Program of Matching
Each of us is born with a number of meta programs that define our core behaviors. One of those programs determines where we are on the scale between being a matcher (agreeing with others) and being a mismatcher (taking the opposite side of any point). Where we end up in the spectrum of matching depends on the experiences and lessons we learn in our lives. Some folks are total and complete matchers, some total mismatchers. Then there’s everywhere in between.
Matching or mismatching in and of itself isn’t a good or bad thing. But how we apply our matching tendencies can create positive or negative experiences in our lives and in the lives (and businesses) of others. For example:
- The person who agrees with everything everyone says isn’t necessarily strong in the role of visionary and out-of-the-box thinker. They tend to conform too much for that role. However, they can be exceptional in certain roles where creating agreement is required.
- The person who flies their flag as the naysayer extraordinaire isn’t usually a strong leader or team player. They spend too much time disagreeing with everything and everyone to create productive teams or fuel progress. However, when you need a devil’s advocate to shoot down every single idea you have and find the holes in your plans or strategies – they fit the bill perfectly.
- Folks who are in the middle of the spectrum tend to be more balanced- sometimes matching, sometimes mismatching. These folks tend to deliver a more constant perspective and experience across the board.
Matching a MisMatcher
We all know the problems that mismatcher can cause. Whether it’s constant disagreement in meetings, constant challenges in the face of progress or simply the seeming need to make themselves appear better by dissing others – a mismatcher can stop progress in a nanosecond. So what can you do?
Agree with them. Take their mismatched point of view and agree with it. Then ask them how they would proceed if they were in charge, making the decision, offering the advice etc.Give them the lead role and sit back and listen.
For example, let’s say a mismatcher tells you that you meeting or blog post or presentation is awful, wrong, stinks etc. Agree with them. “You’re absolutely right, this presentation sucks. What would you do to make it better?” Then sit back and wait. A large percentage of the time the mismatcher won’t have an answer. Plus your agreement makes their mismatching difficult to continue. If they swap sides, agree again, and just keep agreeing. Agreement often takes the wind out of the sails of the mismatcher.
The Bottom Line
Let’s face it. We all know a mismatcher. I meet them all the time in clients, in audiences, in social media and in life. I used to want to whack them up side the heads, especially when they took their mismatching to the personal and nasty level.
Life became so much easier once I realized that they can’t help themselves, it’s the way they are wired. It’s just a program running in the computer we call our mind. We can divert that program with a little thing called agreement. Sometimes it requires falling on your sword to agree with a mismatcher, but the end result of moving forward and getting things accomplished is worth that sword play.
The next time some mismatcher tells you how wrong, bad, out of touch or stupid you are- agree with them. Then sit back and listen for their next mismatch, and agree again. It won’t take long for the mismatching to stop and you’ll be able to move forward again.