The Most Important Human Relations Principle

We need a way to mend differences, bring people together, create harmony where now there's dissonance. We need a way to bring people to agreement, countries into partnership. And for you personally, maybe you would like a way to build a greater sense of comradeship with the people in your life, to repair broken relationships, soothe resentments, create cooperation.

There is a way. It is "spiritual" and it is practical. You can read about it in one of the oldest (and shortest) books of the human race: Tao Te Ching. Or you can read about it in one of the best-selling books of all time: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The way is to learn to skillfully handle the human desire to be right.

You, me, everybody you have ever met or will ever meet — we all want to be right. More than that, we feel we need to be right. We need to feel justified. We need to feel that our ideas, our beliefs, our country, our religion, our way of life — we need to feel that these are right, are better than any other, or that we are justified in being the way we are.

That craving to be right is the main thing that gets in the way of good human relations. Like the mad rush of an avalanche, the "right-mechanism" can wash away years of goodwill in a matter of minutes. It can separate people like nothing else in this world.

The most powerful force for evil in the world is people craving to be right (or justified or superior or respected). And the most powerful force for good is the ability to deal with people without arousing that need.

But this is one of the most difficult tasks there is. Why? Because while you are dealing with that mechanism in another person, you have to overcome the mechanism in yourself at the same time, and sometimes that's an almost Herculean task!

There are many things that help. Meditation helps, because it relaxes you and makes you less prone to tension and anger which cause you to want to dominate and force and push. Anything that makes you calmer will help. You are best able to avoid getting your "I-must-be-right" hackles up when you are calm to begin with. The more stressed you feel, the more likely you are to feel you have to be right no matter what.

Another thing that helps — and this is expressed clearly in both Tao Te Ching and How to Win Friends and Influence People — is to never force anything or give the appearance that you're trying to force anything, because it makes people feel trespassed against. And it makes them try to defend their violated "territory."

The ability to handle that one aspect of people — their deep-seated need to be right — is The Way...the way to peace and harmony in the world, the way to bring out the best in people, the way to go through your lifetime and leave the world a better place than when you came.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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