We all have heard the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. This is a fantastic rule, although I personally feel that it doesn't speak to us as well in today's age, where most of us have all of our basic needs taken care of. On the other hand, what is it that we all struggle with? Human interaction. Relationships with ourselves, teammates, colleagues, friends, our loved ones, etc.
Go to most of the literature out there and you'll find tips and tricks on communication, how to get your point across, be more assertive, etc. I question this trend. In the atmosphere of instagram, tiktok videos, etc. where basically everyone has become some sort of a micro celebrity (at least in their own minds), if we put more of our lives out into the world than ever, why do we still struggle with relationships? All of the social media we create and consume are no more than a distraction from the life that is around us. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tool to be used, but definitely cannot be called communication.
So what is my take on the golden rule? Here's my issue in today's world, the golden rule states: treat others as you want to be treated. The word treat signifies action, it signifies that when interacting with others then treat them how you would want to be treated. That's all fine and dandy, but in a world where not interacting enough is one of the main issues, where we hide behind our screens, where honest conversations are replaced by post likes and re-shares, does this cut it?
My "new age" golden rule is: Listen honestly and truly care for the person in question and you will be loved. In this day in age where everyone has an opinion, everyone thinks it's important to be spewing out their own ideals and beliefs, if you want to be loved and appreciated listen and show the other person that they interest you. That what they're saying is taken seriously. Ask questions, dig deeper and you will find that even with a few questions the person already truly likes you.
It may seem strange that I chose to use the wording of "person in question" instead of "the other person". This of course has a reason. We not only have the need to listen to others, we also need to listen honestly and truly care for ourselves. At the point that we put the effort in being honest with ourselves, truly caring for our wellbeing rather than doing what's comfortable or continuing with whatever addiction we are caving to, then we are able to grow. Can you be honest with yourself when you know you're procrastinating and therefore making unhelpful choices? Choices such as over eating, or smoking, or even cleaning so you don't have to do something even more unpleasant? And after you've listened, do you care enough for your own self to choose to do the hard thing which is to start working, get that difficult thing that you've been avoiding done with? This is of course only one situation where this can be used, but it applies to ourselves in many parts of life such as relationships. Are you honest with yourself in your relationship? Is this where you want to be? Or we can move this to work, is this the career path for you? Are you happy doing what you are doing, and if not can you care for yourself enough to push yourself out of it to create a life that you have taken hold of?
In a recent coaching session I asked one of my clients what is something they do to work on their relationship with their partner every day? The response was more or less nothing. Therefore I challenged them to ask their partner a creative question every evening to learn more about them and show their interest for them. It's no secret that when a person doesn't feel like the other person is interested in them they start to pull back, lash out and create problems in the relationship. According to multiple articles and research done on women who do cheat, among the top reasons are always feeling under appreciated or ignored and or feeling lonely. These are all signs of neglect. Let's also be honest with ourselves, most men are at least a bit egocentric, and showing that they care for another's opinions or interests often isn't our strong suit. So why the creative question? It shows interest, it shows a desire to get to know the other person more. Also in the case of longer term relationships, it can bring a new sense of life to the relationship as the people are able to always learn more about the other person because we as humans grow and change over time. Do you think that you know your family and partners just because you've been with them the last 5, 10, 30 years? I can guarantee you'll be surprised if you've never tried asking them a creative question every day. This is obviously also a great discussion starter. If the question is good enough maybe the two of you are able to create a nice discussion or conversation about each other rather than spending yet another evening in front of one (or more) screens.
So what does a mature, growth centric human being do? We work on it. We set a time-sensitive goal and do our best to remind ourselves of that goal and carry it out. This means that say once a day I try and ask my partner a new question, and once a day I practice listening to someone honestly and genuinely caring about what they are speaking about. After the first month, once it becomes more natural, I can move to twice a day, etc. until it becomes so natural that it's second nature and something that happens automatically.
I have said use creative questions, but at least in the beginning I know that most of us would probably struggle with coming up with a question or two if this is something we're not used to, so I came up with a few examples for you:
What's something new that you experienced today?
If you were a cat, what would you have done differently today?
If money wasn't an obstacle, what would you be doing right now?
Where in the world would be your favorite place to work from?
If you got to choose one place you'd like to travel to in the next year, where would it be?
If you could choose anyone to be president, who would you choose and why?
If you could wave a magic wand and have one thing different in our living space, what would it be?
and so on and so forth. You can of course come up with your own, but try and avoid those classic situations where the answer is going to lead down a path of arguments, and when it does, remember: Listen honestly and truly care and even if you're in the wrong or right, it won't matter as you care for the person who is speaking and you're going to do your best to put them over your own ego in those situations.
So for the last time my "new age" golden rule: Listen honestly and truly care for the person in question and you will be loved.