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Whether in business or personal relationships, a worthwhile question to ponder is what constitutes compatibility? I went to a lecture by Dr. Denbo, a local therapist, who posed this question. Most of the crowd said things like, “Common values,” “Common interests,” and “Shared goals.” Sounds reasonable, right? Denbo’s answer was “No.” He basically said while these can be helpful, they don’t ensure compatibility. Compatibility occurs when two people show up as authentically as possible and discover they delight each other.

What I learned is if we decide we are compatible based on a checklist in our head, we often attach to our idea of what’s compatible and either reject someone compatible but different, or try to force fit someone who’s actually not compatible. For example, a woman out on a date thinks, “hmm… he’s good looking…check, he’s employed…check, he wants kids…check.” So she ignores the fact that he makes offensive jokes or chews with his mouth open. She not only ignores this, she laughs at the jokes to ensure they seem compatible and withholds her true thoughts and feelings. Ten years later, she’s in the therapist’s office complaining about his jokes!

As I pondered his comments, I knew the truth of this. Many unhappy partnerships had everything in common and others with shocking disparities in political, psychological, social, spiritual and economic views, thrived. More importantly, I know how easy it is to bend who we are like a pretzel in an effort to manufacture the illusion of compatibility. And most critical: Compromising ourselves is THE most costly mistake we can make. Not only do we fail to create the compatibility we want, as we betray ourselves, we suffer heavy consequences physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

So… for me, compatibility is coming to any relationship as honestly as I can without attachment to my idea of it. This is no easy feat. I must be clear and confident about who I am, what I stand for and share the truth of that in each moment without protection or self-judgment. This is simple but not easy and requires an unapologetic commitment to self. In other words, really living the adage, “To thine own self be true.”

“I know how easy it is to bend who we are like a pretzel in an effort to manufacture the illusion of compatibility.”

I recently had a great experience of this. I was in negotiations with an international company to discuss a strategic partnership that was extremely important to me. We share families as a primary market and brought to the table complementary services. I saw this partnership as a way to strengthen relations with families for both companies. I love helping parents be effective in their role and gain relief through exposure to proven strategies. For the other company, a PR campaign could breathe new life into their organization and more fully actualize their community vision.

In this meeting, one executive said to me, “Isn’t it presumptuous to suggest a model for how people should parent their children?” This was a moment of truth. I took a breath, and remembered I only want personal and professional relationships that are compatible; those in which we delight one another. From that mindset, I respectfully and confidently said, “I am presumptuous about offering a parenting model. I presume to offer one because I’m passionate about parents and I’m eager to offer proven best parenting practices I have tested for over 25 years. It’s my purpose to make this available to those who desire help.”

I can’t tell you the liberation in my entire being that came from telling the truth like this. I detached from the outcome, remained unwilling to force compatibility, and it was powerful for me. In that moment, I realized this is a key to living a truly honest and emotionally healthy life. So… here’s what I offer you in support of your best in compatibility with others at work and at home: First, fall deeply, madly in love with YOU! Delight in and align with your values, goals, interests and unique personality; get on board with YOU!

Put down all pretenses and commit to the truthful expression of who you are, remembering you’re safest, healthiest and happiest when you’re faithful to yourself. Notice how this attracts the perfect customers, friends and lovers into your life and most of all, how incredible you feel in your own skin!

If you want more help in living a life of joy and effectiveness at work and home, please call me today! Spending time helping YOU is what I most love to do!

As published nationally in Women’s Journals, June 2010