Seek First To Understand

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The “Golden Rule,” is the age-old adage that insists we should treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated in return. The principle is simple; we all wish to be treated fairly and with respect, thus we should treat others in this manner. But what about when our preferences and needs differ from those of others in our lives?

Sometimes we do treat others just as we ourselves want to be treated and all goes well. Other times we’ll do so and stumble upon unforeseen and unintended conflict. As an example, one might be oriented to rationale and logic, needing facts–and just the cold, hard facts–before making a decision. So, in turn, when trying to assist someone else with making their own such decision, they’ll present a case built on data, thoroughly absent of emotional considerations.

Yet the other person is suddenly put off by the proposal. What happened and why? The person oriented to data and facts assumed a shared value that this type of information would be most useful for coming to conclusions. However, the second person valued how emotions and feelings play a part in their decision-making process. And just like that, a misunderstanding of another’s needs causes unintended conflict.

Alas, this is a common misstep many of us unwittingly experience. As it turns out, not everyone wishes to be treated as we do. Not everyone has similar tolerances, personalities, or tastes (there are, after all, those of us who happily order pineapple on pizza!).

To arrive at a more felicitous interaction, we must first be aware of the simple fact that people want and need different things. You might prefer those cold, hard facts when trying to reach a decision, but maybe the other person needed that information conveyed with more feeling, needed to see the emotional benefits behind your message.

To do right by those in our lives, we cannot just thrust our own preferences upon them. We have to hear them, listen to them, and identify what exactly they need and how those needs potentially differ from ours. The only way to achieve this is through curiosity of others interests and throughAwareness of Other’s Needs. In this way, the “Golden Rule” should be adapted to—listen to others, as you first would want to be listened to.

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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