Social relationships, and especially close intimate relationships, face many difficult challenges.
Conflict is inevitable unless we play fair and exercise restraint as we go after all life has to offer.
Here are some simple guidelines based on the principles of emotional competency that can help our relationships grow stronger.
- Expect respect. Don’t tolerate disrespect. Don’t show disrespect toward others. Don’t ignore disrespect directed toward yourself or others.
- Don’t take the bait. Don’t take anything personally. Ignore distracting, trivial, unfounded, or misguided provocations. Avoid pointless and destructive dominance contests. Discuss the facts, don’t attack the person.
- Don’t make assumptions. Suspend judgment until you can gather representative evidence and confirm the facts. Challenge and investigate the source of rumors rather than passing them on.
- Don’t tolerate Ad hominem (personal) attacks. Do not make them yourself. Do not ignore them when you hear them. They are a fallacy and a dangerous precursor to hate.
- Refuse to hate anyone. Explain and reconcile your loss, hurt, or distress through careful analysis, not by blaming others or by hating others. Emphasize all the important things you have in common, not the small ways you differ. Hate is only sustained by cognitive error. Find and correct that error.
- Don’t overlook logical fallacies or factual errors. They are clear evidence of poor thinking, and often of deliberate deception. Apply the theory of knowledge continuously to evaluate all you see and hear.
- Always act congruently with your well-chosen values and beliefs. Be authentic.
- Conflict is inevitable. Learn to resolve it constructively. Attend to both the relationship and the issues. Get along as you get ahead together.
- You are a competent, autonomous adult. You are fully responsible for all your words and actions, as are other competent adults. Be impeccable with your word; do what you say.
- Never resort to violence or abuse. Learn to recognize it in all its forms. Don’t cross the line, even in retaliation. There is always a better way; find it. Seek a constructive dialog.
- You cannot change other people. You can better understand them, learn from their viewpoint, demonstrate empathy and compassion, dialog with them, help them resolve ambivalence, model desired behavior, describe likely outcomes, assist them in making changes they decide to make, and perhaps influence them.
- Loss is often permanent. Accept the past, learn from it, and move on.
- Know what you can and cannot change. Change what you can, and accept what you cannot change.
- Dignity is unalienable; it is intrinsic to our humanity and it cannot be taken away. Consistently acknowledge the dignity inherent in yourself and all others.
- You deserve to have fun and enjoy life. Balance optimism with a healthy skepticism to maintain a realistic outlook on life.
- Seek gratification and significance. Life is not a dress rehearsal, do what matters now. Life is too short to indulge in destructive, wasteful, or meaningless activities.
Following these simple, but often challenging rules can keep your relationships healthy, constructive, and enjoyable.
Do your best each day.