A number of you told me you found the recent Workplace Insiders post about introverts valuable in both your work and personal interactions. That got me thinking about one of my very favorite rules for successful interaction, the Platinum Rule. It states, “Do onto others as they want done onto them.”
At first glance, that appears to be the opposite of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’d suggest that the Golden Rule is wonderful in the most general sense: we all want to be respected, treated well, dealt with kindly, etc. – and therefore should respect others and treat them well and kindly.
However, when you apply this in day to day situations it doesn’t always work so well. In order to be successful, we really do need to consider what works for the other person when we communicate. Here are some examples:
- Susan is a big picture kind of person who work s on overview, 30,000 foot level. She deals with details as her job requires, but generally doesn’t dwell on them or find them interesting . Carlos, her supervisor, is a detail-oriented person. To communicate effectively with him, Susan needs to provide Carlos with the details he needs rather than the overview she wants, and to listen to the details he provides to her (as he undoubtedly will).
- Division manager Harry is always early to meetings. When he’s running the meeting, it starts exactly on time. Although Marcus is much more easy-going and tends to be late, he’d best adjust his style to meet that of his boss, Harry.
- Tanya does fine working alone, and doesn’t need much reinforcement from others. However Alex, her assistant, needs daily positive feedback to do his best work. In order to get the best work out of him, Tanya needs to support Alex in the most effective way even though it’s not her style. She needs to check in with him often and give him praise for his work.
So, just as it’s important to attend to what works in communicating successfully with introverts, it’s important to expand that concept to all of us. Pay attention to what works best for those around you by watching them:
- Do they get straight to the point in a conversation? Do the same thing to communicate with them.
- Do they talk about the weekend, family, friends? Ask them about these before you get to the meat of the issue.
- Do they take lots of notes and bring materials to meetings? Provide them with written material to have the greatest chance of a successful interaction.
Remember another version of the Platinum Rule with one of my favorite sayings, “When you go fishing, what do you put on the hook? What you like or what the fish likes?” And, be sure to figure out what the fish like, and use it! ~ Daphne Schneider
Have you adapted your style to better communicate with someone else? Tell us how it went!