The Golden Rule Error

The Golden Rule Error

The golden rule is a moral principle commonly understood as “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This rule is often attributed to Jesus a couple of thousand years ago and has been a central tenet of many religions and ethical systems throughout history.

The golden rule encourages individuals to consider the perspective of others and treat them with kindness, empathy, and respect. It suggests that we should avoid actions that harm or cause suffering to others and instead focus on actions that promote their well-being.

Enter the 21 century, and this is still the tenet implicitly being sought after in just about every Linkedin post I read for organizations to use. Instead of The Golden Rule, these articles encourage managers to foster psychological safety and behave respectfully, with empathy and all nice like, as an excellent example for their teams.

In one such article I just read, the author posited:
“I’ve been asked repeatedly: since it’s so obvious that good ethics is good business, why don’t people get it? There are many answers, but among them is the resistance to see ourselves as others see us.”

I think it is because he and every other expert pushing this Golden Rule angle is making The Golden Rule Error of focusing on how we should behave, ie. civility, rather than addressing the inevitable incivility that will occur.

That is what I am working on ie. an early intervention toolkit and platform to address incivility as it happens, nipping-in-the-bud any minor spats before they become toxic conflicts.

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