One of the things I love talking about – both in a personal and work capacity – is relationships. I would like to say it is a topic close to my heart, but I know now that it is actually in my brain. Relationships are everywhere. We can talk seriously about relationships between business partners or co-workers, and there are also romantic relationships and platonic friendships.
The age-old question really is: How do they happen? What takes place between two people for them to have a ‘successful’ relationship and what contributes to an ‘unsuccessful’ one? Does it boil down to effective communication or trust between the parties? When is a relationship “complementary” and when is it not? What about the common adage “do opposites attract?”
I have had people come up and ask me what I think complementary means and I honestly cannot answer that. Does it not all boil down to chemistry?
Maybe. But neuroscience offers a different perspective. Our brain is unique and complex, so it is probably not possible to give a definitive answer but it is clear, in my opinion, that in different scenarios, we look for different people to form relationships with.
Maybe that is why sometimes it is hazardous to become business partners with your romantic partner or even a friend… Simply because you complement each other in a different way at work from how you would in a non-business setting.
In a work setting, if we are experienced enough, we would tend to pick someone who is different, who can offer a different perspective or work preference from ourselves. This is often so that we can cover each other’s blind spots and allow our different natural strengths to lead.
In a non-work setting, we might prefer someone who shares similar hobbies or who can understand us well. In this case, someone who is similar might be more appealing.
In a romantic relationship, it is often not so simple. We might desire someone with similar interests but yet can offer a different perspective in life. I have often seen couples who are different come together and so I think opposites do attract, but yet every so often, I meet a couple who are as different as light and day in total sync with each other.
The bottom line is this – if we can begin to understand and be aware of our natural gifts and preferences, perhaps it does not quite matter who we meet in life. If we continue to play to our strengths, we would naturally attract people to different facets of us in the various roles we play in life.
Therefore, I believe we each must begin with self-awareness. At work, for example, this means understanding our leadership styles or management styles, and at play, our personality, behavioural, or thinking preferences. This self-awareness will undoubtedly allow us to be more adept in understanding and managing ourselves which probably will lead us to better manage the relationships in our lives.
Perhaps in the end, the adage that really matters is ‘being true to yourself’.