The Management Violence Inherent In The Golden Rule

The Management Violence Inherent In The Golden Rule

GoodyTwoShoes

I’ve never had much time for compassion. For me, the concept seems too violent, too manipulative to embrace it. I’m all for “connecting with others in meaningful ways”, and for generosity, and kindness, (although, niceness, not so much). And for a life of meaning and purpose, too.

com·pas·sion 

noun
1. a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

I just don’t find it useful to lump all these ideas together under the banner of “compassion”.

Of course, compassion, especially compassion in the workplace, is going to be better than a lack of compassion. I just feel we can, if we but think about it for a moment, do so much better.

The Golden Rule is a great example of what I’m talking about.

It’s the sheer, brazen unilateralism of the Golden Rule that bugs me. At least, as it is most often, simplistically, perceived. Oh, and the violence inherent in the very notion of “rules”, too.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

George Bernard Shaw spotted the flaw:

“Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may be different.”

~ G. B. Shaw

So To The Platinum Question

And thus the Platinum Rule (or here, the Platinum Question) comes into sight:

“How about treating others the way they want to be treated?”

Of course, this means finding out how others might actually want to be treated. Which opens a whole new can of worms regarding dialogue, enquiry, empathy and, yes, humane relationships.

So how about we eschew compassion in favour of empathy and non-violence? How about we consider other folks’ tastes in relating to us, and others? How about we embrace not the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Question?

Would you be willing to give this a go in your workplace, with your colleagues, peers and (God forbid you have any) higher-ups?

– Bob

Further Reading

The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally) ~ Bronwyn Fryer
The Compassionate Mind ~ Emma Seppia

5 comments
  1. Ged Byrne said:

    There’s one significant problem with: “How about treating others the way they want to be treated?”

    How do I know how others want to be treated?

    Isn’t the following statement completely in line with application of the platinum rule:

    “These techie types are not happy unless they are being given firm, decisive leadership.”

    With the platinum rule I can divide the world into leaders and followers.

    I am a leader. I am not happy unless I am listened to and respected.

    They are followers. They are not happy unless somebody is telling them what to do.

    I would not like to be treated this way because I am a leader. They do like to be treated this way because they are followers.

    • “Of course, this means finding out how others might actually want to be treated. Which opens a whole new can of worms regarding dialogue, enquiry, empathy and, yes, humane relationships.”

      – Bob

  2. Bob, its does call for a deeper understanding of our peers and subordinates, but I would also extend to those who lead us as well; a sort of 360 degree look at empathetic reflection, if I can use that phrase. Thanks for turning this on its ear.

  3. A great example of reform in this area is example of understanding and use of Love Languages. We know we fall short of truly loving each other, until we know how they want–NEED to be loved.

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