Building Successful Relationships: How You Act Is More Important than Who You Are

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus


Myrna complained that her adult children treated her disrespectfully. When asked if she treated them with respect, however, she said: “I don’t have to. I’m their mother.”


Some people believe in unconditional love. No matter how obnoxiously they may act, they maintain that their closest relatives and true friends should continue to love them for “themselves.” That’s a mistaken notion.

Unconditional love is possible between parents and young children, but in most relationships:

• Your conduct will determine who loves you, hates you, seeks you out, or avoids you.

• Take a hard, honest look at your actions and ask what you do for the important people in your life.

Does your personality and your style make you lovable and ensure that your company is worth seeking?

• Do you have a pleasant disposition?

Are you easy to get along with? Are you helpful and obliging? Do you express affection? Do you show concern? Are you a good listener?

• Or do you treat people badly?

Are you petty, nasty, rude, impatient, or sullen? Are you generally critical? Do you often express disapproval? Do you often complain, make accusations, fly off the handle? Do you simply not pay attention to others? Even when you perform good deeds, do you do so reluctantly or unpleasantly? lf you said “Yes” to any of these, don’t be surprised if people distance themselves from you. Nobody can be sweet, warm, kind, loving, considerate, caring, and pleasant 100 percent of the time. The question to ask yourself is how often and under what circumstances you are selfish or uncaring. Remember, you reveal your love through your actions.

• If you discover inconsistencies between who you are and how you act, you will need to change your actions. If you want to be treated nicely, you must act pleasantly towards others.


Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus and Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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