We’re both business consultants in theory. In reality, most of our consulting involves advising people about relationships. We’ve found that when people stop doing these three things, their relationships nearly always improve. And this improvement isn’t limited to business relationships. Applying this advice has an equal (and sometimes even greater) positive impact on even the closest of personal relationships.
1. Quit asking people to change.
Have you attended a high school reunion? If so, did you notice that the class clown is still the class clown, that the popular kids are still popular, etcetera? It just isn’t easy for people to change, and it doesn’t happen very often.
However, in Western society we’re quite casual about asking people to change, as if they can do it easily if they really want to. Do you wish your boss or your co-worker would change? How about your significant other, or your close friend? Does someone in your life want you to change?
How much change are you and others achieving? If people aren’t changing, then what exactly are we accomplishing by these requests for change? The sad truth is we’re damaging our relationships.
So stop asking people to change. Embrace them totally, with all their imperfections as well as their wonderful traits. Go ahead. Give it a try.
2. Stop expecting 50/50.
There’s a myth that relationships should be 50/50. We need to accept the reality that a relationship is almost never 50/50 at any given time. There’s an ebb and flow. Sometimes more will be asked of you. If you truly care for the other person, give it without reservation. Tomorrow you might have to ask more from that person. That’s the way healthy relationships work. Embrace the ebb and flow.
3. Let go of the need to be right.
Being right is highly overrated. It has caused a lot of acrimony in relationships. Value the relationship more than you value being right. Letting the other person be right does wonders for a relationship, as does apologizing when you’ve done nothing wrong (from your perspective, at least).
For many people, the need to be right is very difficult to give up. But if you can do it, you can avoid all kinds of negativity. For the sake of your relationship, let it go.