12 Steps to Great Relationships: Step Four, Appreciate the Differences

For details on all of the previous steps, look at previous blogs.

Step 1:  Know yourself.

Step 2:  Develop a genuine love or acceptance of yourself.

Step 3:  Expand your knowledge.

Step 4:  Appreciate the differences.  Get perspectives on different values and cultures.  This goes for gender differences as well.

Learn about and appreciate the differences while emphasizing the similarities. When it comes down to it, we are all human beings who have a need to love and be loved. Find that common connection. For some difficult people your only connection may be that you are both carbon-based life forms. If you can travel more, this is like getting a PhD in relationships. Find out about different cultures, food, art, music, dance, and language. Learn a language if you can. Learn about cultural differences with greetings, meetings, social situations, and business situations. There are thousands of books on cultural differences.

Also, learn about gender differences and how men and women approach things differently. I recently went on a yoga retreat that was organized by Helen, a friend of mine. To my shock and pleasant surprise, out of 35 participants, I was the only male. This was a big learning experience for me. The first night, everyone met for dinner. Keep in mind that no one knew each other. Now I had been to these first night dinners with groups of men. The first night with a group of men, you will see the following: All of the men will talk about their position at work, what they do, and what monumental projects or concerns they’ve been involved with. They tend to boast about their successes and retell stories of how they overcame difficulties. They have all been on the worst project ever built. There is a hierarchy established from the outset. There is a pecking order. Men connect with manly hobbies like sports, hunting, fishing, and motorcycles.

The experience with the group of women was completely different. The first question out of every woman’s mouth was, “How do you know Helen?” They wanted to how I came to be there. They wanted to know how I fit in with everyone else. What was my connection with Helen? Immediately they tried to establish those connections and networks. Connections and group harmony are paramount to many groups of women. Most of the time, there are no hierarchies established. Everyone is made to participate and feel as if they are part of the group. I think this goes back to childhood. Little boys play games like king of the hill and follow the leader. Little girls play more collaborative games. And if there is a girl who wants to take over and be the leader, she is shunned from the group for being “too bossy”.
It doesn’t matter of you are a man or a woman. Take note. When you know about these dynamics and make an effort to understand these differences, you will be able to create connections with anyone in any situation and establish great relationships.

If you want more information on the 12 steps to great relationships, click here:


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