In his book The 100/0 Principle, The Secret of Great Relationships ( 2010), Al Ritter, the CFO of a Fortune 500 consumer goods company, quoted French writer Marcel Proust: “True discovery consists not in finding new landscapes, but in seeing the same landscape with new eyes.” In The 100/0 Principle, Ritter relates a story about a relationship that his boss, the president of the company, asked him to create with a business acquaintance Ritter disliked intensely.
He reported that initially he didn’t know what to do, but finally decided that since the president of the company had asked him to make this relationship a priority, he would simply treat this colleague with the same decency and respect with which he treated people he liked. This meant that he would have to view him differently. Ritter continued to explain that it was uncomfortable at first, but that when he treated this man with fondness and respect, the behavior that he hated in the business associate almost immediately disappeared. He began to like him. Al Ritter called this his 100/0 principle, which is that you take a 100% responsibility for the relationship, expect nothing in return, and nevertheless do all you can to make the relationship work.
Psychologist John Gottman, PhD., who wrote The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, also believes strongly that treating the other person with fondness and respect is vital to a successful relationship. He reached this conclusion through scientific observation and measurement of the ways that couples communicate, making fondness and respect his second principle for making marriages work.
Both of Ritter’s and Gottman’s principles sound very much like a version of The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated, but with an added twist of expecting nothing in return.
Al Ritter didn’t use this 100/0 principle so that he would be treated differently; he just viewed the business associate in a new way, like someone he liked, so that he could have a working relationship with him. He was just trying to comply with the request from his boss, but as he began to treat the man with decency and respect, things between them changed. They became friends for the rest of Ritter’s tenure at the company.
What if we could see our significant other through new eyes? And further, treat them as we want to be treated, taking 100% responsibility for making the relationship work, rather than blaming the other for the relationship’s failure. Could we not succeed in turning our relationships around, just as Al Ritter did? Hmmm.
Learn more about Gottman’s Seven Principles and specifically the kinds of actions to take to improve the relationship between you and your significant other, by participating in the Gottman Seven Principles Couple’s Program, Sept. 21 & 22 in St, Peters. Call 636-928-5800.