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The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

I’ve been thinking about how to apply the Bible verse above, known to some as the Golden Rule, to our business world. Surely in a business climate that has an unfortunately low level of employee engagement, is dependent on customer satisfaction, and verbally strives for a high level of reputation, such a simple principle would have some lasting impact.

What Does It Say

I inserted the Golden Rule verse (not known as the Golden Rule in the Bible) in the King James text, you know the one that uses words like “ye,” “thus,” and “henceforth,” specifically to make you think when you read this verse. The shorthand interpretation of this verse is “we should treat others the way that we would wish to be treated.” For example, if we wished to be treated kindly, then we should treat others kindly.

Unfortunately, the “Golden Rule” taken from the Bible is often misinterpreted. First of all, this rule in not a quid pro quo where I will treat you this way only if you similarly treat me. It is not conditional. It is clearly one-sided; I will treat you how I want to be treated with no understanding or requirement that you must treat me the same way in return.

A second misinterpretation includes the idea that I will treat you how you want to be treated. This presumes mind reading. If both parties follow the Golden Rule, then how someone wants to be treated will become obvious. But to assume that both parties follow the same rule would be a condition and that is not the intent of the original verse.

Use of the Golden Rule.

The reason to understand the Golden Rule accurately is that in its original interpretation, it has many uses for us in business.

First, following the Golden Rule establishes an air of consistency that is necessary for reputation building. Through using this rule, everyone you interact with will know exactly how you will treat them.

Second, treating others as you want to be treated must be the background of all customer service initiatives. Customers crave attention and we, as customers outside of our business lives want the same attention. We always will treat customers how we want to be treated.

Third, wouldn’t you want to be treated with dignity, courtesy, and commitment as an employee? As a business leader, that should be the same way you treat your employees.

Forth, as managers, we are always communicating with someone, whether an employee, a superior, a client or an associate. We all know that we like to be heard, we all want time to voice our opinions, and that our communications are polite and respectful. That is how we should communicate with others.

Finally, as we manage people, we need to manage them just as we want to be managed. Our management style needs to convey dignity and a sense of opportunity and gratitude, not because that is demanded but because that is how we want to be managed.

The Bible

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:18 says.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

We do not always know how to deal with the people we associate with correctly. The safest way, then, when interacting with all people is to treat them the same way that we want to be treated. That way, we will never be wrong.