I had spent most of my life looking for similarities, looking for what was the same, not what was different. When I met someone new I would look for ways that they were the same as me. Did we share any interests, common backgrounds, or had we taken holidays in similar resorts, or could I find any friends that we had in common. My whole strategy for creating rapport, empathy and friendship was based on matching with other people. I found these skills valuable in making friends and in making sales.
Conversely mismatching felt uncomfortable. I instinctively felt that a person was not the sort of person that I would like. As a result I must have missed thousands of opportunities to make new and possibly interesting friends.
What I failed to appreciate until quite recently was the value of challenging thinking patterns. I had always done this when looking for business solutions, but only very rarely employed the same mismatching tactic in social, sales or coaching situations.
The key to mismatching is in the phrase: “yes, but….” This phrase challenges the other person to think, to reexamine their presuppositions and their entrenched positions. It can lead to arguments and disagreements. But it can also cause a lot of rethinking and reevaluating which can be healthy.