Since I was a child, I was told to treat others the way I wanted to be treated by them. And I did. I tried to understand how people feel, what their needs are, by trying to relate to them, by trying to see myself in their shoes. And this always felt like a great advice. We all want to be treated fairly and with respect.
But I never thought to consider, how we differ and how what we want will differ as well. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for everyone else.
I remember many situations where my friends, family members or colleagues tried to help me and support me. And there were occasions when I was getting annoyed by it. I understood that their intentions were good, but what they were offering me, wasn’t necessary what I needed.
At the end of the day, we all see the world through our own lens.
In order to be an effective leader, it is our responsibility to understand the people we work with. Understand what is important to them, and why it is important. Only when we know them, we know how they want to be treated.
Treating others the way we want to be treated might be great starting point when we meet someone for the first time, when we don't know much about them. But we have to keep in mind that our ultimate goals is to get to know them and learn more about them and treat them the way they want to be treated.
Treat others the way THEY want to be treated
So how do we treat others the way THEY want to be treated?
We start by building our awareness. Recognize what makes others unique and treat them as they truly are, rather than how we are.
This means learning to really understand other people and then interacting with them in a way that is best for them, not just for us. This means adjusting our behavior to make others feel more comfortable, in a way learning to speak their language.
Pay attention and listen - Notice communication preferences
Do they communicate big picture or are they very detailed?
Are they more focused on the task at hand, logical or do they focus more on relationships and connection with people?
What are their energy levels? Do they speak fast, or do they then to have a slower pace?
How do they respond to questions? Are they direct or more diplomatic? Can they respond immediately or do they need time to think before they respond?
What is their body language? Do they use a lot of hand gestures, are they moving around when talking or thinking? Or are they more still with minimal movement?
For more information on how to develop deeper level of listening, please check out my article: Sorry, I was on mute. Can you repeat the question?
Understanding what people around us need from us. What should we do more of or less of?
Taking time and really get to know them. What matters to them?
Being curious about their perspectives and opinions
Learn their values and their strengths
Core values are our guiding principles. They represent deeply held beliefs, what is driving people and what really matters to them.
From here, it is all about adapting our style. Trying to communicate in the way the other person does. Initially this may feel awkward, but if we practice it regularly, we will soon get the hang of it.
And I am going to share another tip with you, which I learned during my Co-Active® Coaching Training. Design an alliance with others, which means designing what you would like the relationship to be and how do you and others want this relationship to feel.
Design an alliance
Sharing perspectives, hopes, wants, needs, fears
Learning how others resolve conflicts and how would you go about it
Discussing your communication style preferences
Sharing honest and open feedback
Revisiting the alliance regularly and modifying it as needed
By taking these steps to understand ourselves and then the preferences of others, we can treat others as THEY wish to be treated. This is really about moving beyond empathy to understanding, and building stronger relationships in the process. If you want to grow as a leader, this would be a great place to start.