May 12, 2011 Leave a comment
I got a Kindle a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve been reading basically non-stop. I flew to New York this week for business, and I spent a good portion of my time in the airport, in flight, and in cabs glued to a book I’m absolutely enthralled with! Devora Zack’s Networking for People Who Hate Networking is a great read. It’s absolutely practical if you fall under the umbrella of the title (I do!), and uses its fair share of sarcasm and humor to convey its message (I LOVE!). I will probably share more thoughts as I finish the book (I’m only halfway through, but I also only started yesterday!), but one concept stood out to me immediately.
We’ve all heard the Golden Rule before, in one of its many forms, but its most basic one is this: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” Devora turns this rule on its head with what she calls “The Platinum Rule.” To demonstrate, she uses this example:
Let’s say Rachel is out on personal leave for two weeks. An extroverted coworker, Marissa, wishes to express respect for her acquaintance. She employs the golden rule, treating Rachel as she would want to be treated. When Rachel re-emerges in the workplace, Marissa dashes over and gives Rachel an affectionate squeeze around the shoulders. “Hey Rach! So glad you are back! Hope everything is okay! If you need to talk about anything, remember my door is always open.”
How do you surmise Rachel, an introvert, is responding internally? Most likely she is feeling invaded. She does not know Marissa well. She thinks it is inappropriate for Marissa to be so chummy, and she is uncomfortable with being touched by a virtual stranger. Plus, she does not appreciate Marissa’s making a scene in front of everyone.
Now an opposite scenario. Guapo, an extrovert, has also been away for two weeks on personal leave. His introverted colleague, Josh, sees Guapo return to work on Monday morning. Wanting to be respectful, Josh treats Guapo the way he himself would want to be treated. He politely says hello, but does not behave as if there is anything unusual. Why draw attention to someone who has clearly been dealing with some personal issue?
Guapo is offended. He thinks, “How rude and insensitive of Josh! We have worked together for nearly six months, I am out of the office on personal leave, and Josh behaves as if I were here yesterday. Obviously he doesn’t care about anything but my productivity.”
Now the perils of the golden rule are illustrated. Not everyone wants to be treated identically! Devora’s “Platinum Rule” is: Treat others like they want to be treated. Obviously, this is easier said than done. If you use the golden rule framework, it’s easy. You only have to think in one dimension – how you would behave. With the platinum rule, you really have to exercise your emotional intelligence a bit and figure out how someone else would behave in that situation.
The entirety of the book is about the not-so-subtle differences in preferences, behavior, and inherent skills of introverts and extroverts. I won’t go into detail about how to spot those traits to treat people how they would want to be treated for two reasons. 1) I haven’t finished the book and wouldn’t be able to do it justice. 2) There are a lot more traits, both personality and learned, that can impact how someone wants to be treated. Culture, past experiences, age, and all of the other things that make all of us diverse and different impact the different ways we want to be treated in certain situations. An important first step is recognizing that you have to go a step further than treating people the way you want to be treated and change your frame of reference to truly show respect to others.
Thanks to Lisa Zimmerman for a great recommendation!