Six ways to have more success at work and at home

Golden Rule (2)The American playwright Wilson Mizner famously said: “Be nice to people on the way up you’ll meet them on the way down!” This saying is a great illustration of The Golden Rule – often quoted as “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”.

However you look at it, it’s really good advice! You really need to think about others in everything you say and do because we don’t function in a vacuum. Everything we achieve relies on others, every step of the way.

Many years ago, I worked for a man who really didn’t care about other people. He was, without a doubt, a genius and brought huge benefits to the company that we both worked for but, as one of my colleagues put it, he should be shut away in a tower to think and create and never be allowed to interact with others.

The problem with this person, who I actually really respected for his intellectual capability, was the trail of destruction that he left behind. He would literally reduce people to tears and trample all over other people’s feelings. Eventually, the company fired him. The damage that he caused to other people’s feelings simply was not worth the ideas he created. He lost everything he had worked for, not because he was bad at his job but just because he failed to follow The Golden Rule.

We need to work with those around us every single day. We all have colleagues, customers, stakeholders and partners that you need to interact with at work.  At home, you interact with family, friends, and children.

Treating everyone with respect and building trusting relationships is the key to a happy and productive life. You may think that you’ll get better results by playing hardball with your suppliers or others around you – but the problem is when you make a mistake or need a favor, no-one will go out of their way to help you if you haven’t built the right kind of relationship with them.

So, how do you build relationships that follow The Golden Rule and develop trust and friendship? Here are my top tips to get started!

1.      Be present in the moment.

You need to pay attention to yourself and those around you to build quality relationships. Think about it for a moment; how do you feel when someone is looking at their phone or their computer screen when you are talking to them? Do you want to make someone feel the same way? It’s not just about technology; looking out the window, watching what going on around you along with many other things can make someone feel like they are not the center of your attention.

2.      Think about what you say … before you say it.

Growing up, my uncle always had a good piece of advice. He often told me to “engage brain before opening mouth.” It’s a piece of advice I would have done well to heed more often in my life and it’s key to following The Golden Rule. Think about what you are going to say before you say it and make sure that you are speaking from a place of kindness and that what you say will be received that way!

3.      Seek first to understand.

Steven Covey’s rule “seek first to understand and then be understood” is, in my opinion, his version of The Golden Rule. If we listen actively to others {link to active listening article} and we genuinely try to understand what they are saying and where they are coming from, we will learn far more about them and what moves and motivate them. This can impact the way we speak and what we say.

4.      Be gentle.

If you have something to say that is going to hurt someone, my simple advice is, NOT to say it. In my sessions with coaching clients, I sometimes get managers who ask me about this and point out it’s their job to give feedback – and sometimes that feedback can be negative. My response is that there is always a way to turn negative feedback into a positive experience by thinking about the way you frame what you say. This is particularly important for children and young adults as they learn their way through life!

5.      Build gratitude into your life.

If you want to follow The Golden Rule with others one of the best ways to start is to focus on the things that you are grateful for in your life. Keep a gratitude journal {do we have an article on this?} and use it daily to maintain an attitude of gratitude. This will help you focus on the positive and build the relationships you want.

6.      Remember you need to start.

Sometimes you just need to take the first step to get going. It can be hard to follow The Golden Rule when others around you are negative and can seem self-centered. However, once you start, you’ll be surprised how others around you change their focus and the way they talk to you. When I was a police officer and taught conflict de-escalation to recruits I always reminded them to smile and be polite in the face of aggression because it’s hard to hit someone that is smiling! A smile and a kind word can do more to de-escalate a potentially inflammatory situation than anything else.


The Golden Rule isn’t easy to follow and none of us are perfect! However, the more that we can incorporate the principles into our daily lives the stronger the relationships we will build with others and that is the key to taking ownership and being the best we can be.


Share your experiences of using The Golden Rule with the community in the comments below. How does using these principles make your like stronger and better?

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