Do Unto Others…

Published on 2014-04-01

Source: Wolfgang Lonien @ Flickr
NOW, I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS MAN. Truth be told I am far more Hitchens than Holy Communion. When it comes to the Bible, I believe that along with Revelations and Exodus, there should be another chapter entitled Contradictions. Likewise the Koran, which is basically the Bible on random play. The Talmud has a little too much justified genocide in there for my taste and the Hindu Gods are just downright scary.
However, and I say this after annoying the religious readers, once you cut through the hypocrisy, double standards and misogyny, one ideal seems to cross all religious boundaries. If you can ignore the fact that it shines through despite going against the mass killings and slavery which surround it, the advice that you should “treat people in the way which you yourself would like to be treated” (paraphrased from the original Aramaic) seems to be a pretty good guide as to how to live your life.
Do I like it when, after waiting patiently for a taxi, someone appears two metres up the road and jumps into the cab that was pulling up for me? Not much, no. Am I amused when the woman in the elevator is speaking so loudly on the phone that the person she is talking to on the other side of Beijing could hear her without the aid of a handset? Not in the slightest. Do I whistle with delight as I wait in the traffic jam caused by the mother who has deserted her car in the middle of the road in order to drop her son off at school without walking too far? Hell no!
I do though feel totally justified in my anger, as the phrase that keeps running through my head is “how would you like it if I did that to you?” In the case of the overly vocal lady on the phone, I don’t think she would mind at all, but rather just speak even louder. I feel confident though that the other two culprits would be less than impressed if the tables were turned. I am thus motivated to avoid behaving in this way myself as I know how it makes others feel.
Not that I am blessed with greater empathy than other mere mortals. Neither am I an angel with the manners and etiquette of a Savoy Concierge. I simply find that, by taking a second to think of my feelings should the roles be reversed, I can conduct myself in a more considerate way. Of course, when I say I, I mean the vast majority of people.
So let’s jump ahead to Friday. It’s 6:30 pm and before you run out of the office, your finger hovers over the mouse, ready to send an email to your boss, colleague, subordinate. In this email, you will ask them to review the contents, make the necessary corrections, format it and then send it back to you by 9:am on Monday. In short, you are saying to the recipient, I need you to work over the weekend.
Just think for a second how delighted the reader will be on realising that you have generously waited until the last minute to send them the email. Consider how excited they will be at the prospect of spending a Saturday or Sunday editing your mistakes.
Business interaction is full of these types of examples of selfish or unthinking behaviour, and the long term effect on working relationships can be hugely damaging to office or company efficiency. When you are hurt by somebody, the natural reaction is to hit back. People who feel they are a victim of inconsiderate actions will often answer back by being equally inconsiderate. This leads to a ‘tit for tat’ war of spiteful attrition in the office. Deadlines are missed, mistakes go uncorrected and in short, everyone loses.
Now look at the effect of considerate behaviour. If I help you on a project, it is much harder for you to say ‘no’ to a future plea from me for help. If I make sure that any request I make of you is done leaving you plenty of time to complete it, (whenever possible) then I set the standard of how our cooperation will work. This is especially true of managers whose actions have a direct influence on the behaviour of their team members.
“Submit requests unto others as you would have them submit requests unto you'”. It’s hardly rocket science. It’s really just proper business etiquette. Lead by example and demonstrate to others the standards by which you would like to be treated. Hard work and focus are good basic ingredients for success, but throw a little empathy and best practice into the mix and you can expect great results on a regular basis.