Over the years, my happiness and satisfaction within interpersonal relationships was determined by our shared values and compatibilities including the ability to authentically communicate what is meaningful to us. Fundamentally, sharing a set of core values — moral or spiritual — provided a solid foundation from which we explored and grew our relationship. Furthermore, our compatibilities such as being other-centred rather than only self-centred encouraged tolerance and appreciation within the relationship. In addition, intellectual compatibility — we all took the same graduate training in psychology — ensured one of us was not exploiting or controlling the relationship at the expense of the others. Finally, our shared personal interests — dinner parties, music and dancing, feminist causes — although not vital, provided the common ground necessary for engaging in mutually rewarding experiences.
Interpersonal compatibility can be defined as “like attracting like,” which also includes sharing similar coping skills such as emotional-behavioural management and authentic communication. From my own experience, masking our true thoughts and feelings weakens relationship bonds and increases the potential for anxiety and depression along with a host of other illnesses. Such lack of authenticity in relationship emerges as either too much unnecessary or too little constructive communication. It took me years to discover the subtle balancing formula for authentic communication — dialogue without shaming, blaming, criticizing or punishing each other and dialogue where our outward expression matches our inner experience. The former was an old habit to be broken, and the latter took significant self-discovery and awareness to form.
Although each of us might use different techniques or language to express what is meaningful for us in our personal relationships versus those at work, the majority of people are likely to value similar approaches in both arenas. For example, when I took the free online assessment, 5 Love Languages, I identified what was most meaningful for me in my personal relationships. My ranking is listed below where 12 is the highest score in any category.
10 Quality Time: a person’s undivided attention — no distractions, deep listening
7 Physical Touch: appropriate and timely hugs and thoughtful touches
6 Acts of Service: non-obligatory actions to ease one’s responsibilities
6 Words of Affirmation: unsolicited kind and encouraging words that uplift
1 Receiving Gifts: affectionate, thoughtful and heartfelt gifts and gestures
As primarily a collaborator in my work life and because time is such a limited commodity in the work world, I value my colleague’s undivided attention and deep listening. Although I might be more cautious about hugging a new colleague, I do think an appropriate touch on the arm encourages heartfelt engagement. And of course, finding a compatible collaborator who willingly shares the workload without being reminded is a dream come true.
Unfortunately, in many workplaces uplifting words of encouragement fall by the wayside. Over 70% of employees claim they receive no praise or recognition at work, which has me wondering if they are also denied the other four languages of love and appreciation. Since February is the month of love, why not offer some loving kindness and appreciation to your work mates. In my client work, I hand out an affirmation card to every participant. The energy in the room immediately fills with laughter. Leaving people with a smile on their face is a small gift to pay for their undivided attention. If you are not familiar with affirmations, below are a few samples of how to affirm what you want.
I say no when I mean no, and respect my own health in doing so.
Life provides for me and protects me from harm.
“Should, ought to, must and have to” are not in my vocabulary. I do what is
right for me in the moment.
Forgiveness is my strongest weapon. I forgive everyone. I forgive me.
I am doing the best I can with the knowledge, skills and awareness I have.
Knowing what is meaningful to me and acting authentically have greatly enhanced my response-ability for my own happiness and fulfillment.
What one step can you take to bring greater compatibility and authenticity into your relationships?
For more on authenticity and appreciation, click here.