The world does not run on self-sacrifice and philanthropy. While everyone may exhibit these attributes from time to time, they are not self-sustaining. Self-interest, however, is reliable and sustainable. Rarely will you ever be surprised if you assess the other person’s interests, nor disappointed if you align your interests with theirs. Where we fail is in two areas:

1. We expect other people to be more generous than is in their interest. If you’ve ever felt betrayed by someone else, you’ve probably made this mistake.

2. We settle for the level of benefits the other person’s self-interest gives us. If you’ve ever felt manipulated, you’ve probably made this mistake.

The solution- be aware and respectful of others’ self-interest. Also, don’t feel like you have to apologize for your own. If the mutual benefits become misaligned, take steps to correct it, even if it means ending the relationship.

Take stock of your relationships today. Have hard conversations if necessary. If you think it’s cold to look at relationships that way, you’re probably allowing fear to cloud your objectivity. Great relationships embrace scrutiny and result in even more appreciation.