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Data Dome Resources – White Papers: Adapting the Golden Rule

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Adapting the Golden Rule for Better Communication

The way that you prefer to be treated may not bear much resemblance to the way someone with a different behavioral style would prefer to be treated.



Do not treat people the way you want to be treated. Treat them the way they want to be treated.

We do not intend in any way to undermine any religious, philosophical or ethical insight represented by the "Golden Rule." An ethics of action that is based on treating others as you would yourself prefer to be treated is certainly a good place to start.

However, when what is being considered is how to improve communication between people, it would be a huge mistake to ignore the fact that the way that you prefer to be treated may not bear much resemblance at all to the way someone with a different style prefers to be treated.

For example, someone with a low S (in the DISC quadrant system) typically has a quick, even frenetic, pace. If a low S attempts to communicate with a high S - someone who prefers to do one thing at a time, at a slow, steady pace) using the Golden Rule, think of the potential problems.

If the low S communicates with a high S at the pace he or she prefers, then the high S will feel rushed, pushed, and stressed out.

When you understand what the positions in the four quadrants really mean, you can learn to adapt your behavior to treat others more as they themselves prefer to be treated rather than projecting your own behavioral preferences onto them (or blaming them if their preferences are not your own).

The low S, for example, can learn to slow down a bit when communicating with the high S to treat the high S as the high S would prefer to be treated.

We have found that it is not unusual for people to make value judgments based on differences in behavioral style preferences.

So there is an implicit ethic in specifically adapting your style in order to better communicate with someone else: It can be a way of paying attention to - and honoring - their differences from you.

Ultimately, however, an understanding of behavioral styles equips you with a neutral language for understanding the behavioral differences among us.

Whether you use that insight for good or ill is another question (and that is when the original version of “The Golden Rule” applies once again!).

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