You have an awkward interaction with your friend. Do you blame her and wait for an apology, or do you proactively reach out to "own" your part in it?
Your assistant does your marketing promotion wrong. Do you get irritated at her or do you calm yourself down before asking her to help you understand what went awry and how you can prevent it next time?
In the car, your spouse/partner is lost and aggravated, but won’t stop to ask for directions. Do you snap at him to ‘calm down’ and remind him he"‘always does this," or do you take out your iPhone GPS and make a decide to print out directions next time (thus averting the usual spat.)
Your answers depend on whether you follow the 50-percent rule. Usually you want to change what the other person is thinking and doing because it is annoying you or making you feel upset, and you think they ‘shouldn’t’ do it that way.
The 50-percent rule is an approach to all relationships (romantic, business, parenting, friendship, family) in which you focus on being “impeccable for your 50-percent of the interaction.” It’s not about being nice or giving in to keep the peace. Its about taking responsibility for your part, relying on your own tools to get yourself into the right emotional state, and acting in a way that aligns with “who you want to be” in the relationship.
The benefits of being impeccable for your 50-percent are many. You walk away from the interaction feeling proud of yourself rather than guilty for lashing out. You preserve your relationship rather than chip away at it. You decrease the other’s defensiveness so they are more likely to listen to you (and if they are not capable of much change, you are already ‘in a good place’ and thus detached from the ill effects of their behavior).
And this is the most important: You are in control!
To try out the 50-percent rule, think of a relationship in your life you want to be better. Draw an imaginary line in between you and that person – everything on one side is your 50% (what YOU think, how YOU feel, what YOU say, what YOU do), everything on the other is theirs.
Notice that what you have been doing until now in this relationship may be efforts that “cross the line”. You may have been “taking on their 50 percent” (e.g., absorbing their negative energy, feeling responsible for their feelings, trying to rescue them) or getting them to act differently (e.g., blame them to get an apology; tell them they need to change; do favors for them hoping they will approve of you and appreciate you). The other person probably experiences your efforts as controlling and it may have backfired.