Why is taking the higher road a good idea?
Sometimes that sassy comeback feels so good when you practice it in your mirror while getting ready for a meeting with your co-worker or lunch with your mother-in-law. But when you actually speak those spiteful words out loud, you don’t feel quite as pumped. Psychologist Yvonne Thomas, PhD, says even when it’s hard, the higher road is the always the best choice. “It’s good for your personal happiness because you uphold, not sacrifice, your values and a more appropriate, healthier code of conduct. You avoid compounding the situation by stooping to the level of poor or unhealthy behavior yourself, because, as the old adage goes, two wrongs do not make a right,” she says. “Consequently, by taking the higher ground, you can feel cleaner, healthier, and happier because you’ve maintained your integrity and value system.” For every situation, Thomas suggests approaching your reaction with the tried-and-true compliment sandwich. “First say something genuine and positive, then go into the ‘meat’ of the problem or issue, and then end on a note that is, again, genuine and positive,” Dr. Thomas explains. “With this method, you have a much better chance of having the other person stay open and receptive to you rather than getting defensive and lashing out or shutting down.” Here’s how to apply this advice in common scenarios.
When your best friend betrays your trust
When your best friend (who holds all of your promises and most of your heart) does something that makes you doubt their loyalty, the sting is intense. But Dr. Thomas says when this happens, it’s important to pause before being angry and upset, and instead, give them the benefit of a doubt, especially when this action was out of character. Then, take a deep breath and be completely honest about how you feel. “Directly communicate with him or her to find out why this betrayal of trust happened. For example, you can say something like, ‘I know we are so close and can discuss anything with each other. So, I need to tell you that I am very confused and hurt that you told Sally about my not getting that job I wanted. I had told you to not tell anyone and I wanted to ask you directly why you shared this information. I know this has never happened before, and I wanted to be honest with you so we could work this out together.” Here are other important ways to be a true friend.