Have you ever met someone you like so much that you overlook some of their flaws? Or you find out, to your disappointment, that they do not share your values or political effect? If so, you have suffered from the dazzling blindness of the Halo Effect.
This is a concept that can arise in any context, whether it is a personal or work relationship. You like someone, and your overall view of them leads you to blind spots. This can even happen in education, where teachers and lecturers assume students they like are more intelligent than they really are.
Once you realize this, the disappointment can cause conflict in that relationship. After all, you assumed that this person was an angel, and so the fall from grace (to find out they are a mere mortal) can be a painful moment.
Here are a few tips to manage the Halo Effect, and hopefully preserve the relationships you wish to keep -
1. Don't assume anything. Find out more about this person, so you can assess whether they really reflect your values and views.
2. Go slow. Take your time to get to know someone. The quicker you form a relationship, the more likely you are to make misperceptions about who they really are.
3. Respect the whole. Even if your views do not align, is this really a deal-breaker? Sometimes you can learn from people who have lived according to different values and views.
4. Is this forever? Don't lose hope because, with time and patience, people's views and values can change.
5. Don't burn your bridges. There is a chance that this person's values might change, but so might yours. Often we evolve as our life circumstances change (we start a different career, or we get married, or we become a parent), so don't burn your bridges with this person unless you are really really sure that you will not need them again.
Still struggling with relationship conflict? Find out more today.
Chris Warren-Dickins, Psychotherapist