Creating Workability In Relationships Whether You’re Right or Wrong


In life there are certain things that you have to be right about — fact. When you’re performing open heart surgery, nursing a baby, racing at 180 miles per hour, or landing a passenger plane you need to be right. Being wrong would be a catastrophe. What I consider just as important as human life are the relationships that we have with other people.

However, despite being of equal value, life and relationships are not necessarily appreciated in quite the same respect. A person might be terrified of picking up a gun and killing another human being, even in self defense, but have no problem ignoring their mother for 30 years. A person may be against killing people even in video games, but keeps arguing with their spouse over ice cream for weeks on end.

There is clearly an imbalance. Why bother to care about human life if we don’t appreciate and nurture the relationships with those that are alive? I’m not suggesting to balance this out by starting to care just as little about human life. What i’m suggesting is that we become conscious of what our relationships really mean to us.

If you think about it, you really do value the people in your life. You value your family for being your family, your friends for being like your family but by choice, and your co-workers for putting up with you. The best way to show them that they matter, is by appreciating them and creating workability within the relationship.

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
~William James

8 Tips To Create Workability in Relationships

  1. Love them. I’m not talking about the word ‘love’, i’m talking about the action. However you think it is appropriate to show someone you love them, so that they will have no doubt in their mind that you do, is the best way to do this. Saying I love you is important, but it’s important to follow through.
  2. Listen attentively. Without waiting for your turn to talk, just listen, and ask questions (and then more questions) about what they’re saying to you. When I’m on the phone I like to close my eyes and listen to people so that I’m not being distracted by anything else. The attention is appreciated.
  3. Forget Right. If you know in the bottom of your heart that you’re right and they’re wrong, it doesn’t mean you have to prove that to anyone. Consider that if you do prove them wrong they will me embarrassed, feel guilty, or resent you. It’s much easier to just drop it.
  4. Acknowledge wrong. When you’re wrong, and we all are at one point or another (many times a day), it is important to just acknowledge that you are wrong. Clean up the mess and reclaim the integrity in your word. It’s not that words are cheap, it’s that people make words cheap, so make your word mean something.
  5. No criticism. It’s always easy to criticize someone. This is a super-sensitive subject because you want to avoid causing someone embarrassment or providing criticism without a solution. Your criticism might also be not needed, not wanted, or unappreciated. If I see someone is harming other people in their life, I’ll ask if it’s okay for me to give them a constructive criticism, and only then will I proceed.
  6. Don’t Interpret. What people do, all of us, is make an interpretation of what information means when we experience it with our senses. If your friend isn’t being very talkative you start to assume that they’re mad at you, or they’re tired. You may react by getting mad at them or being sad for them. What makes sense is to find out, by asking the person, what’s going on, or what they meant when they said something.
  7. Do Not Embarrass. In the Jewish religion, and I’m not sure about other religions, it is considered that embarrassing someone is like killing their soul. After I heard that, I never ever wanted to embarrass someone again. It makes sense practically – nothing good ever comes out of embarrassing someone.
  8. No Guilt Trips. Making someone guilty is not necessarily going to make them change their ways. They may very well think that you are a malicious person and get very defensive.

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Photo by Derrick T

Posted by in Relationships | May 20, 2008 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 10 comments

  • Adam Donkus

    So if embarassing someone is like killing their soul, then that show punked kills peoples souls.

    Number 6, What about using I statements such as “What I think you are saying is….” Would that be interpreting?

    • Alex Shalman

      Hey Adam,

      I’m not sure about the logistics of soul-killing… will ask a higher authority on this matter. =)

      As far as I statement, I think they’re really helpful. It’s different when you’re using I statements, being intuitive, and asking if what you think is correct, versus assuming that you are definitely correct, and not even double checking with the person…

      You make great points. =)

  • Shilpan


    I agree with you. It’s incredible how we ignore what nurtures human life, a relationship. Ignoring relation is akin to destroying bridge that takes you to the destination. Without the bridge, all you can see is a path, an object that you can’t experience. All your points should help someone create awareness towards this subtle yet vital human aspect.


  • Shamelle

    When one is caught up in “the moment”, “Love them” and “No criticism” is something that’s hard to practice. Nevertheless, its something we all need to build up on.
    I suppose to a certain extent we need to be patient as well πŸ˜‰

    • Alex Shalman

      Hey Shamelle. I agree with you, it is hard sometimes, but it’s designed that way because we appreciate the things that are hard to get much more. πŸ™‚

  • Warenwirtschaft

    Wow. I am impressed.
    There is one sentence that comes to my mind, reading statement #3 “Forget Right”.
    “You can’t win an argument in a relationship”
    The meaning of this sentence is that even if you are right and if you “win” the argument in the long run the relationship suffers. So in the end you loose again.
    The same message as yours, just in other words.

  • dexter

    Sometimes, it’s alright to be right. It’s in the delivery that matters. When one brags about being right, and in front of everyone else, it does more harm to the relationship than the initial intention of being right. One isn’t after delivering what’s right, one is after bloating once ego at the expense of another’s.

    My history teacher once told me, “if you’re right in class, and I’m wrong, please have the courtesy to tell me in private after class and not in front of my class.” Also, being right and wrong is different from disagreeing ideas. So I guess its safe to voice out one’s opinion by saying, “I disagree with your idea, but I still respect you..” then proceed to explaining why you disagree.

  • Shirley

    I really like this article. Very well written. All your points were right on. I’ve heard these lessons before, but I obviously haven’t learned them, because they really hit home. Especially about listening attentively (I like the idea of closing my eyes to focus on the caller), and “forget about being right,” how true it is that people don’t appreciate when you prove them wrong. And lastly, I loved #7. I’ve never heard about embarrassment “killing their soul,” but I’ve certainly experienced the feeling. I don’t want to do that to others.

    This is a great article for improving ANY relationship. Great work.

  • Marina

    This is a great article! I feel so strongly that a very cynical world so focussed on looking good is equally competing on making others look bad. This fosters the greatest insecurities in people. By being conscious of how your word effects others, one becomes much more aware of impact, and how much he or she can have. This is awesome!

  • Preeti

    very well written.I usually end up isolating myself from people when my thoughts do not matches with the others.but at the end, i am the one who remains lonely.
    This article is really helpful !!