If you exchange gifts during the holidays, I'll bet you received at least one gift that was totally wrong for you. I'm talking about the gift that made you scratch your head and say to yourself "What the heck am I going to do with this?" Perhaps aunt Maggie purchased that red-feathered fedora (she’s been wanting) and gave it to you as a gift.
You remember the Golden Rule from kindergarten don’t you? -Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you- Well, that’s when aunt Maggie (and the rest of us) started learning how to view the world from our own perspective. After all, it's natural for us to think about ourselves. We think about our own likes, dislikes, what's easy for us, and we forget to think about the wants and needs of other people.
In the workplace, the same thing happens all of the time. We tend to communicate from our own perspective. We make ourselves available based on how busy we are. And sometimes we get so attached to doing things based on what work best for our selves, we forget to think about what might to our bosses, colleagues and clients.
Most of the workplace stress and tension that I see today is due to not understanding how to treat people how THEY want to be treated. Miscommunication, misunderstandings, lack of cooperation, conflict, etc., are usually the result of not knowing how to speak the other person's language and adapt to their style, especially when their style differs from our own.
Now if we switch to the Platinum Rule, Tony Alessandra suggests that we “Do unto others as THEY’D like done unto them”, we start treating people how THEY want to be treated. It makes more sense doesn’t it? What a great way build rapport with anyone, and eliminate career damaging personality conflicts. It’s a simple, but important twist on the Golden Rule.
How do you figure out how other people want to be treated? Here are some ideas and resources for helping you learn how to practice the Platinum Rule:
- Just Ask - One of the easiest and most direct ways of discovering what other people want from you is to ask. For example: What’s the best way for me to communicate with you? Do you prefer email, a telephone call, or should I make an appointment to see you?
- Observe – If they can’t or won’t tell you what they want, they will usually show you through their behavior. For example: Notice how they communicate with others most often (chances are, they aren’t practicing the Platinum Rule). Do they tend to send emails, make phone calls, or do they tend to set up a meeting.
- Learn To Read People – It’s easy to learn to read a person’s personality type, but it takes plenty of practice. Start by reading my article “Learn To Read People”. If that appeals to you, pick up copies of Tony Alessandra’s “The Platinum Rule”, and Robert Bolton’s “People Styles At Work”. Both books are well written and full of easy to understand tips and tools.
Practicing the Platinum Rule will virtually transform your relationships. But…it won't happen overnight! It takes extreme effort to treat people how THEY want to be treated, instead of treating them how we feel like treating them. But if you plan, practice, and keep trying, I promise you this will be one of the most rewarding skills of your career.
Just experiment with it for a week and post your comments here!
Additional resources to help you read people:
Gary Smalley – His personality assessment is here (although he no longer uses lions, otters, beavers and golden retrievers as a model) it’s still worth checking out. You can interpret your results at his site here.
Tony Alessandra – As the author of “The Platinum Rule”, Tony is one of the masters in the field when it comes to reading people. Browse the back issues of his newsletter and sign up if you find his articles useful.
Communication Styles Table – An excellent little tool created by Dr. Brackman