We are taught that the Golden Rule is the best guide for good behaviour: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”.

Hmmmmmmmm.

The thing is, the wording of the Golden Rule is pretty egotistical.  It almost says “Assume that all people see the world as you do and enjoy the things you do.  Assume they respond to things the way you do and appreciate what you do.  Base your behaviour towards them on what works for YOU.”

But that isn’t right, is it?

The true Golden Rule should go like this: Treat others as you KNOW they would like to be treated.

Do you see the difference?

Let me give you an example – say I lose my job.

Some people would assume that I would want them to rally around me, come over to my house with wine to support me, and give me leads to new jobs right away.

But that wouldn’t be what I would really want.

I would want to go away somewhere quiet, process what happened and decide where to go from here.  And I would probably bring my own wine.

By using the “Golden Rule”, people would have asked themselves how they would like to be treated in this situation, and would act accordingly.  They would have thought they were helping me but in reality they would be getting in my face, focusing on how I was expressing my ‘feelings’ at any given moment and making me uncomfortable.  Crowding me.

You can’t fault these people for trying to help…their hearts would be in the right place.  But it would not be the reaction I would want from them.

I am an introvert, and I would hope they would know me enough to base their behaviour on how THEY KNOW I would like to be treated.

I realize this way of looking at things takes more effort on your part – it means you must put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  Get to know them and acknowledge the fact they aren’t exactly like you.  Find out how they want to be treated, and respect it.

That is a rule we can all follow.

Advertisements