On Saturday evening we celebrated a close friend’s 50th birthday on a boat cruise out of Kennebunkport. A friend that I hadn’t seen for a few years commented that I must have earned a gold watch by now for my length of time at the bank. I chuckled and acknowledged that I did in fact get a commemorative watch after my 25th year.  It now sits in my desk drawer as a reminder of the flaw inherent in the Golden Rule. You see I don’t like watches and don’t wear them but somewhere down the line someone decided in company after company that because they like a watch that everyone else would appreciate one too in celebration of some milestone. Interestingly, even my father has bought me at least a few watches since I was a kid – I guess because he likes them so much he has forgotten that I don’t care for them much. Now don’t’ get me wrong, I appreciate the thought behind the watches and I understand that this is a fairly common memento or my friend wouldn’t have kidded about it.  It just shows that it is easier not to take the time to know the recipient and what might be special to that person and easier to look at it from the giver’s perspective.

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Olivia and Chris competed in the Tough Mudder at Mt. Snow, Vermont a couple of weeks ago – 10 miles of crisscrossing the mountain while going over, under, and through many obstacles. It was amazing to see all of the participants endure and conquer the challenge of swimming through ice, getting zapped by electrical charges while swimming under dangling electric wires, crawling through mud, and scaling over walls and obstacles as they climbed up and down double diamond ski trials.

2411_tonemappedsmallTough Mudder – great name and an intimidating challenge. Interestingly, everyday life throws some sort of tough mudder at us with obstacles that we need to conquer and one of them is avoiding the natural tendency to look at everything from our own perspective. It is innate isn’t it? We all have this natural tendency to assume that everyone will like what we like and everyone would like to be treated like we expect to be treated. Some version of the Golden Rule has passed down through time from the Hindus, Chinese, Tibetans, The Babylonians, Hadiths, and ultimately the Bible and the rule is most often translated as doing unto others as we would like done to ourselves but that definition at face value is sort of narcissistic isn’t it?  What makes us think that just because we like something or like to be treated a certain way that those around us would like the same thing?

It’s apparent that it is a tough obstacle to surmount as it seems to happen all the time. I attended a loan closing a couple of weeks ago for one of my long term clients. The attorney conducting the closing is a very detail-oriented, fact specific, person while my client is well versed in real estate closings and very conscientious of his time. He expects things to go quickly, smoothly, and without a lot of explanation when it isn’t needed. As you can imagine the attorney proceeded to go paragraph by paragraph and form by form because that is the way he would like it done if someone was presenting him with the paperwork. I could see my client squirming in his seat in pain so I finally spoke up and explained to the attorney my client’s preference which is a question that should have been asked at the onset of the loan closing.

2342_tonemappedsmallNow, without question the golden rule is a timeless and honorable sentiment by which a lot of good has been done in the world. But as a tool for communication, understanding another’s point of view, and endearing others to us it leaves a lot to be desired. Dr. Tony Alessandra observed this and with a very small change supercharged the Golden Rule and named it the Platinum Rule – “Do unto others as they’d like done unto them.” It is amazing the change in perspective that takes place by replacing the word ‘you’ with ‘they.’ Changing the view from our own standpoint to the other person’s perspective forces us to understand those around us better. It requires that we take the time to become knowledgeable of others and adjust our actions, our thoughts, and our behaviors in a manner that they will value.

Everywhere we turn now we hear companies boasting of great service and that satisfaction is the company’s biggest priority. With all of these proclamations you would think that service would be getting better and better.  Studies, however, suggest otherwise.

As Tony Alessandra reveals in The Platinum Rule:

  • One customer in four is said to be thinking about leaving the average business at any given time because of dissatisfaction.
  • For every complaint actually received the average business has 26 customer problems, 6 of which are “serious.”

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Upping customer satisfaction and improving the depth of all of our relationships all starts with considering the various personality differences that make life so frustrating at times but so fascinating most of the time.  Can you imagine if we were all the same?   Now that would lead to a very boring world.  These personality differences have been studied for thousands of years as theorists and scientists have sought to identify the various styles.  For the most part they have whittled it down to four types sometimes identified by colors, animals, birds, or abstract behavioral-science names but in all cases are nearly the same.

2304_tonemappedsmallIf you are looking for one sure fire method for growing your business, improving your relationships, and endearing yourself to others you need look no further than learning the four personality types and working diligently to treat other people in a manner that they would like to be treated.

Even without a watch I know there isn’t a better time than now to start this endeavor.  The results will amaze you.

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