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The Golden Rule: Variations

By steve - Posted on 01 December 2008

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
-- Luke 6:31 (KJV)"

The "Golden Rule" is generally stated as, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". As long as you are a relatively normal person, to treat others as you would want to be treated reflects your true character, puts your ethics into action, and makes the world a better place at the same time.

However, many people miss the logical extension of this rule. Don't just treat other people the way you want to be treated, "treat others as they would like to be treated."

The difference here is that, before you can treat people the way they want to be treated, you must put some thought into what the other person wants or needs. You can't just think about things from a self-centric point of view. You need to start thinking about things from the viewpoint of others. Walk a mile in another person's shoes.

This can come out in the simplest acts. For instance, you may think that it is desirable to arrive early for a meeting with a client, perhaps because you see it as a sign of respect. The client may see it differently. They may have planned out that part of their day to the nearest 5 minutes and expect you promptly at 10:00 am. Don't expect them to be happy if you arrive at 9:30 ready to start the meeting. In fact, they may end up quite irritated.

In the opposite direction, you may be an extremely flexible person and it is OK with you if things start 30 minutes late. However, I don't think you'll find many other people that find that OK, except under exceptional circumstances. When it comes to other people's time, you definitely want to be treating them the way they want to be treated.

When dealing with people, you will tend to have a better relationship with them if you treat them as they want to be treated. Start thinking more about what they want or need and a little less about what you want or need and you'll do well.

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