Don’t Treat Others as You Would Treat Them!
It may just be I’m in the “groove” of corporate topics like communication and listening skills… What rolls around my awareness these days is the usual suggestion for how to interact effectively with others via these kinds of courses.
Inevitably, more than one participant volunteers we need to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. Perhaps it’s also that we’re now settled into back-to-school mode – hearing the distant ring of school teachers’ voices imparting The Golden Rule to their young charges.
Either way, this sentiment seems deeply-embedded within our collective consciousness. Not that I’m against treating one another right! When you travel to as many workplaces as I do in a given month, it’s always heartening to witness kindness. Believe me!
Treat Others According to Their Wishes!
It’s just that I question the vantage point from which we’re deciding how to treat others.
For, many of these same leadership and personal development programs use self-scoring survey instruments to enhance insight not only into our own – but colleagues’ communication preferences. The hoped-for result is to appreciate each person brings (diverse) strengths to the table. To support this learning objective, participants typically engage in exercises to reinforce the essence of productive teams. Namely, they’re comprised of a balance amongst “styles”.
That’s why I quibble with the notion we should treat others how we wish to be treated.
No! The whole art lies exactly in the flexibility to adjust our “style” preferences to those of the person with whom we’re engaging. Literally – you could see etched on the surprised face of a manager recently what a huge “aha” this was for her. Great!
At first, her take-away was to apply her “thinker” preferences to the improvement of internal and external conversations. Then, she caught herself. Not the way to go… Instead, use what she had gained about the other three communication “styles” to discern what each team member needs individually from her leadership – and give it to them. Right! Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
The Top Ten List
Borrowing from the wonderful example of a senior leader I had the privilege to coach, I can squarely say his enduring legacy years later was the reminder to “locate yourself over there” with the other person, not “over here” mired in your head. To encourage you to give from your heart the gifts those around you need (in the way they require) – some thought-inducing questions:
- To what extent do you tailor your messages according to others’ communication styles – especially if they’re opposite yours?
- Do you pay attention to both the facts and feelings others are conveying?
- Do you check your assumptions through questions that seek to understand?
- Are you able to block out “noise” to concentrate properly on conversations?
- To what degree do you listen selectively – hearing only what you want to?
- How much time do you take to clarify your intentions before interactions?
- What are your positive and negative “triggers” when in dialogue?
- Do you ever carry past judgments into current conversations with people you feel “negative” toward?
- Are you ever aware of “auto-talking” (i.e., responding unconsciously) even if your comments have nothing to do with the discussion at hand?
- Do you ask others for feedback on how they think/feel when they deal with you?
I guess, it all boils down to the proverbial “put your self in the other person’s shoes”. But not just by giving lip service to the idea. Instead, by truly seeing and experiencing the world as others do…
As renowned motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, counsels:
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Interestingly, just before sitting down to write, I called a friend to wish her a Happy Birthday. Do you know what I said? “I wish for you whatever you wish for yourself.” Sure, I could have extended some form of the prescribed health, wealth and happiness message. That would have been nice. No doubt! It’s just that I wonder if you can agree with me on the power of acknowledging her special day in the form she would most desire it.
I leave you considering, the next time we converse, where will you be located?