When a relationship is difficult: Making the full committment

When a relationship is difficult, especially one in which you have a large business or familial stake, it can color your whole outlook on life.  I’ve certainly found myself with a black cloud hanging over my head, thinking, “What can I do to make this better?”  I’d like to explore some aspects of making difficult relationships better in some upcoming posts, though much of the time I will admit to being bewildered as to how things can become so botched up sometimes.  I know one unhealthy approach I’ve found myself falling into has been to become defensive and lose perspective.

With respect to the business environment, in a classic article by Peter Drucker, he suggests two tips for improving relationships with colleagues: 1) Recognize their strengths and figure out a way to have yours and the others’ strengths compliment one another 2) Take responsibility for communications between you and the other.

This latter point reminded me of something else I learned of a few years ago. I wanted to pass it on here in case it might help you or someone you know.

It is called the 100/0 principle, and it was written initially by Al Ritter. This is the formula: You take full responsibility for the relationship (the 100) and expect nothing in return (the 0). As you take authentic responsibility for a relationship, it will be that the other person does as well. Consequently, the 100/0 Principle transforms to something approaching 100/100, at least that is the hope. By being persistent in your kindness and respect for another person, you will change the dynamic of a relationship. When that happens, true breakthroughs occur for the individuals involved, their teams, their organizations (and, depending on the situation, perhaps their families). Most people just give up too soon. Doing this requires tremendous discipline, faith, and humility, but when faced with a “failure is not an option” relationship, it may be what you need to do.

I will admit that I find the concept intimidating, but I also think it can be hugely rewarding.  If you try this, please let me know how it goes.  Also, if you have any wisdom on how to work your way through relationship difficulties, please share with us all!



  1. Suzanne says:

    Text: Luke 6:27-36
    27”But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”


    1. admin says:

      Thank you, Suzanne.


  2. Rob says:

    “The war is over. I surrendered and I won”. I have a friend who had a tee shirt that had that printed on the back of the shirt. He was the first of many people that would love me through the most desperate time of my life. I love what Suzanne shared. Surrendering to a way of life that calls us to behave out of love is a tall order. It often begs the question “Do I indentify so strongly with my own affliction that I am afraid of who I will be if I surrender it?”. How much I value any relationship is defined by my willingness to surrender myself to the relationship. Randy, thank you for taking the time to post these Meanderings. I find them to be very helpfull in centering my mind.


    1. admin says:

      Rob, I have never thought of it that way but it makes so much sense. “How much I value any relationship is defined by my willingness to surrender myself to the relationship.” I appreciate your taking time to read this and sharing your wisdom with us!


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