Why It’s A Bad Idea To Treat Others As You’d Want To Be Treated

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Treat people as you’d want to be treated‘?

I have. Lots and lots and lots of times.

That’s because, as part of helping people to define their personal brand, I frequently ask what their Values are – those things that dictate the direction of their moral compass. (I’ve written before about what constitutes a Value, if you’d like more of an explanation.)

Often the person replying talks about ‘fairness’ or ‘equality’ or ‘respect’ which, when I ask them to dig deeper into what that means, regularly leads to the phrase ‘Treat people as you’d want to be treated.’

As a moral guide for how to behave, it’s pretty darned good, wouldn’t you agree?

Well, maybe you should think again

I used to agree, until I heard a clip of an interview with Simon Sinek (he of Start With Why fame) that shifted my perspective. So I’m sharing what he said here on the off-chance it’ll shift yours too.

He was talking about business leaders who proudly make statements about treating their staff and customers as they’d wish to be treated.

“Surely you should treat people how they want to be treated – not you.”

With that one sentence I realised the flaw in the initial phrase. Just because something works for you, that doesn’t mean it’ll work for others. And if you’re not taking that into account, are you really being ‘fair’ or ‘equal’ or ‘respectful’?

In other words, are your personal brand Values playing out the way you want them to? Or are you inadvertently contradicting yourself with your actions?

So how can you ensure you treat others as they want to be treated?


Ask them.

Tell them what you plan to do (in terms of how you’d want to be treated and therefore what you assume would also work for them) then say something like, “How would that work for you?” or “But what would work best for you?”

It doesn’t mean you have to do what they want 100% (fairness, equality and respect only work when they’re a two-way street), but it would mean you were truly acting out your Values…and that’s a boon for your personal brand.

Does ‘treating people as you’d want to be treated’ play a part in your Values? And if so, what do you think of this different perspective? There’s a comment box below where I’d love you to share your thoughts. Thanks!

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One response to “Why It’s A Bad Idea To Treat Others As You’d Want To Be Treated”

  1. Jeff says:

    In the main I agree, except in the case of people who think they are more important than they really are for the wrong reasons, and I have met a few over the years.
    Hope you and the old gentleman are keeping busy and well. I, meanwhile, am pushing my old side-line business, http://www.falconfoto.co.uk with a bit of advertising.

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