Luke 6:31 - “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Confucius – “Do not do to others that which we do not want them to do to us.”
Ancient Hindu teaching – “Do not do unto others which would cause pain if done to you.”
Philosophers call it the ethic of reciprocity.
As I started to prepare some notes for our upcoming bullying prevention summit, I couldn’t help but recall the simple teachings of what most of us learned as the "Golden Rule”. Cultures around the world have used these words or similar words to teach others the concept of empathy.
Of course, those ancient cultures and many modern ones as well, didn’t necessarily think that they should apply the rule to their enemies or their slaves. So, for many it is a selective empathy. Still, I think the Golden Rule, in the many ways it can be expressed, has to be a foundational belief for preventing bullies.
You may find this hard to believe, but from where I sit, I have to mediate more adult bullies and adult accusations of bullies than those of children. You would think that educated people in a government culture would be nicer to each other. You would think that these people would also have the skills to mediate their own conflicts.
These conflicts seem to come from 2 primary sources.
- A colleague says something perceived to be rude, mean or hateful.
- A supervisor says something perceived to be rude, mean or critical.
For number one, my general response has to be, “Come on people. So you really need me to be Dr. Phil and get you both in chairs in my office and to ask you what he said and ask you to tell him how that made you feel.” Golden rule people! There is a chance that that person who stepped on your pride may not even know he did so. Why don’t you tell him that his words hurt you, rather than tell me? Model for the children how adults resolve their differences.
For number two, most times I would respond the same as number one. But, there is also this condition that causes many people to be hyper-sensitive to constructive criticism and direction. I have found supervisors, who have communicated very explicit, direct expectations without anger or threat. They even say please and thank you, yet they are referred to as bullies. There is a big difference in being a bully and being bossy. We employ a number of bosses and they may on occasion need to be bossy. I’m OK with that. Sometimes, calling a committee and asking them what they think and how they feel is not appropriate.
So let’s not forget the value of the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. It’s as simple as that.