Treat others the way you want to be treated—the Golden Rule. Sounds good, wholesome, and righteous; yet I have concluded that this is not the best advice. That’s right, I said it.
Look, I’m not trying to be contrarian or provocative here. I have spent years trying to understand how to build better relationships. This is key to having a better, more fulfilling life at home and work. I even went down the authenticity route. I was learning how to be authentic and speak my mind, “being real,” as the kids might say. Nope, that will not help you as it did not help me. Authenticity in building relationships is, shall I say, not very useful.
Where did I land?
For starters and brevity, I landed with the Platinum Rule, “treat others as they want to be treated.” Slight nuance with significant implications. The Golden Rule suggests that your values are the standard for how people should be treated. Yeah, it doesn’t sound right when put that way.
That fact is that each of us has a standard that we value and others should respect. That does not mean that you need to agree, but it does mean that you need to take much more time getting to know people and how their experiences, family, and friends shape their values; how they come to their conclusions.
PRO TIP: One of the best questions to ask a customer when they make an assertion is not to agree or disagree but to ask, “how did you come to that conclusion?” This question will tell you much more about who they are, what they value, and the assumptions they hold that guide their decision-making and their lives.
In her book, Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin reports that Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t like that man; I must get to know him better.” Lincoln took on the responsibility for the conflict and assumed that he was missing some important facts and needed to take action.
In my forthcoming book, Sincerely Yours, I talk about this phenomenon of being “others-centric” when building relationships. My book focuses on ideas, strategies, and research (you would be disappointed if it didn’t) into building meaningful and lasting relationships – ones that help and lift each other in life, including customer relationships.
There are three dimensions by which you can measure your level of sincerity as well as others’. By assessing these you can adjust your engagement with your family, friends, customers, and even strangers such that they become acquaintances and maybe even friends.
What, did you think I was going to tell you the three? Hey, I need to sell some books here! Of course, if you follow me and read my posts on the interwebs, you might find them as well.
So, to finish off this post, start practicing the Platinum Rule when you are engaging with customers and see how it goes. It will take you many more questions, but the journey will be worth it.