Respect costs nothing

I was invited to attend a meeting yesterday at the office of a company of a long-time client.

The agenda for the meeting was simple: to discuss and review suggested upgrades to the company’s Respectful Workplace policy.

Their existing policy is fully outlined in a six-page document and a series of recent events had led their senior executives to conclude that amendments and additions to the policy were in order.

The better part of two hours was used to discuss and debate the recommended conditions and then an additional half-hour was devoted to pondering the degree and extent to which the existing policy required wordsmithing.

I played no role other than that of spectator in this first part of the meeting until I was asked what I thought of the current policy and the proposed changes.

I claim no particular expertise in this field, but I did have a thought.

I asked who in the room was familiar with the Golden Rule? You know the one. The one that directs us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us or, more simply, to treat others as we would like to be treated.

Of course, everyone present was fully conversant with the golden rule so I suggested – somewhat tongue-in-cheek – that perhaps their entire Respectful Workplace policy could be reduced to one statement.

Several years ago, a Platinum Rule was introduced to augment the centuries old Golden Rule and, in making my recommendation, I believed that this new rule, when fully adopted, addressed all the concerns and behaviors associated with a Respectful Workplace policy.

The Platinum Rule instructs us to “treat others as they want to be treated.”

This revised rule goes well beyond the Golden rule in that it reminds us that just because a particular action or behavior is acceptable to us, does not mean it is equally acceptable to others, and therefore guides us into learning what behaviors are acceptable to others and to then coach us to, always and only, present those behaviors when in the presence of those folks.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that all codes of conduct can be comfortably folded into the definition of the Platinum Rule, I’m simply saying that if this company, and probably all others too, preach the doctrines of this rule and not allow it to become optional, it is my belief that many of the interpersonal dislikes that arise in the workplace – and everywhere else – will never escalate to the level of being a genuine conflict.

There truly is a singular course for almost all conflict. Quite simply, conflict occurs when expectations go unmet and for most people, being treated the way they want to be treated goes a long way to ensuring high-quality, conflict free relationships.

Sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time complicating the uncomplicated.

What do you think?

Till we read again.

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