The Golden Rule

Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself

The Golden Rule (first formulated by Confucius 551-479 BCE)

Are you sharing an office with someone who talks very loudly when they are on the phone. Or do you feel you do more than your fair share of washing up in the staff kitchen, because you don’t like mess? Is there someone in the work car park who consistently parks sloppily over two spaces and makes life hard for the other drivers? If you answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, and that ‘yes’ causes you irritation then ask yourself—if I was annoying someone like that person is annoying me, what would I want them to do?

It’s a good question, isn’t it? It immediately defuses a sense of the other person as the source of all the trouble and puts you and them on a much more equal footing. As often as not, you would like someone to tell you that you were causing them irritation because you would rather not be upsetting them and chances are that if you know you are, then you can do something about it—if your phone shouter realizes what they are doing, they can learn to talk more quietly; there could be a staff rota for clearing up and the bad parker could get some help in parking properly. It’s all got to be much better than resentment staying under the surface and building up over time.

Applying the Golden Rule in our work place is an excellent foundation for good communication and conflict resolution. Few of us would want to be gossiped about, ignored, not consulted, or made fun of and get we may find ourselves tending to do that towards a work colleague. We began this discussion by looking at how to show respect to others by finding a way to let them know about their antisocial habits because we would like to know ourselves but what about the more subtle stuff, the behaviour we do not easily see? If we ever find ourselves indulging in a piece of gossip about our boss, or an associate; if we keep our distance from someone because we get the feeling we won’t like them, or if tend to over-look a team member’s input because it challenges our own, then right there we are not applying the Golden Rule. We may dress gossip up as a bit of harmless fun, or justify not liking someone, or call it being skilful to avoid confrontation with opposing views but in fact we need to ask ourselves how we would feel if we over-heard some gossip about our own life, or were told someone did not like to be around us, or were consistently passed over in team discussions. It pretty much certain that it would not make us feel more motivated to get to work each day.

The Golden Rule is not a magic wand. It will not make all the difficulties we have with people at work go away in one clean sweep. What it will do is to help bring the other people closer, to put them on the same level as ourselves. We just need to keep asking ourselves the question: how would I feel if this was happening to me? The answer we get back will give us an accurate and reliable indication of whether we are behaving in the most appropriate way