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47. Traits, Interests, and Values

While grabbing a cup of coffee with a mentor, his wife of 50+ years called. He rolled his eyes a few times. A snarky “yes dear” was dropped more than once.

I was engaged to my now wife at the time. When he hung up he asked, “You’re engaged right? Want to know the secret to making it work?” Of course I did.

He went on to explain that there are three characteristics of compatibility.

The first is traits - the way we tend to behave and react, like introversion-extroversion. He explained that those don’t really matter. Every couple will be similar in some ways and different on others, which will inevitably be annoying. “Just deal with it,” he said.

The second is interests - the things we’re interested in that help us enjoy our time on earth. He said these also don’t matter. Hobbies come and go, sometimes they overlap, and sometimes they don’t. Work at finding some common hobbies, but don’t let that determine who you choose as a partner.

The third is values - the things that are important to us and define us. These are the only things that really matter. They don’t change much over time and they are the source of all of our decisions, the big and the small, whether we realize it or not.

I think this advice has implications for all of our relationships, including those at work. Everyone is different on traits and interests. Those shouldn’t mean much.

Learn to work around personality differences and celebrate our diverse hobbies. Start connecting with people on things that are meaningful, like values, so that we always have a source of compatibility.


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