Tuesday February 7, 2017
You've probably heard about the Golden Rule: do unto others as you want them to do unto you. In other words, treat other people the way you want to be treated.
In many ways, the Golden Rule is invaluable. It reminds us to treat others with the same care, respect and fairness that we ourselves desire, and to think twice when we're tempted to do something unkind or inequitable.
But if it's used blindly, it can actually work AGAINST our relationships with our customers, business contacts, families and friends.
Let me give you an example.
I'll be honest: I don't like sudden schedule changes. Once I've got my day mapped out, I can sink comfortably into that routine, knowing what I have to work with and what needs to be done.
Once I've organized my day, unexpected and urgent demands for my time tend to frustrate me. My day is booked, and additional tasks require that I either postpone something I'd expected to have over and done with, or work overtime to get it done by the end of the day.
That being the case, when a person I was working with started booking appointments involving me without consulting me first, it caused some friction between us. For him, this procedure was normal and welcome, but for me, it wasn't.
I also caused some frustration on his end, because I preferred to handle our conversations via email. I process better when writing than speaking, and I can remember things I read better than things I heard, so email is more conducive to the way my mind processes things.
But for him, conversations via email are slow, frustrating, and conducive to misunderstandings, so he prefers to do things via phone.
When I tried to get him to handle everything via email, and he scheduled appointments without asking me first, both of us were going by the Golden Rule... but it wasn't working for either of us.
Shortly afterward, a relationship coach reminded me of an important truth.
A little while later, I was talking with a friend of mine, Dr. Jessica Higgins. She specializes in helping couples to strengthen their love and connection, to communicate more deeply and easily, and to build a relationship that can stand the test of time instead of falling apart.
She reminded me of a rule that I'd heard versions of before, but hadn't really thought about for a while. She calls it The Platinum Rule.
The Platinum Rule is simple: instead of treating other people the way YOU want to be treated, treat them the way THEY want to be treated.
If your business partner prefers that you book appointments first and ask them later, as long as it's within their specified time frame, then go ahead and do it - even if you'd rather they ask you first if the situation was reversed.
If you have different preferences in terms of how you communicate, see if you can alternate between them, or modify one of them to work for both of you.
If someone needs time to process things before talking about them, whereas you'd rather talk things out right away... if they need things that you never considered necessary, or are OK with things that would drive you crazy... those are examples of times when you should stop treating them the way you want to be treated, and treat them the way THEY want to be treated.
Does this mean you should ignore the way you want to be treated?
Not at all. Whether the other person is a business partner, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child, a boss, an employee, or anyone else with whom you'll be interacting for any length of time or on any matter of significance, it's important to know how to compromise.
Start by knowing yourself, your desires and your limitations. Where is there room for you to compromise, and where do you NEED to hold your ground for your own well-being and happiness?
Be willing to try new things, and to say "no" if something you try isn't working for you. Also be ready to do your part in finding a middle ground that works for both of you.
Have you been using the Golden Rule, the Platinum Rule, or both?
Do you have any tips for creating harmony and win-win compromises in your business?
I look forward to your comments.