Why ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is a myth when it comes to successful communication

From a values perspective, ‘do unto others’ is an excellent guiding principle that clearly has stood the test of time. I wish to be respected so I treat others with respect…

When it comes to successful communication, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ does not work! Considering the anatomy of engagement and influence, ‘do unto others as they would be done unto’ is the guiding principle.

  • Goal orientation – People with this preference are primarily motivated by moving towards something. They can stick with a goal for a long period of time, and are more likely to talk about what they want.
  • Problem solving orientation – These people are motivated by moving away from what they don’t want. They are energized by finding problems and identifying all the possible risks, and might be seen by their goal-orientated cousins as ‘glass half full’ people.

Personally I have a strong goal orientation. If you start talking to me about all the things that might go wrong, it takes all of my professionalism to stay with the conversation.

Last week I was asked to give a short presentation encouraging people to support the Leadership Victoria Foundation.  I spoke about why I believe in philanthropy and good leadership. This was goal-focused language – my native state.

I also talked about poor leadership being a cost we can’t afford. That’s a strong away motivation – something I need to consciously bring into my communication.

To communicate successfully with all the audience, I needed to cover both motivational patterns. I needed to do unto them as they would be done unto.

You might have noticed this approach in tooth paste advertising. The problem solving orientation – move away from plague, bad breath, no friends, etc. The goal orientation – move towards looking great with a dazzling smile.

Other motivational patterns that could improve your communication effectiveness include:

  • Breadth Orientation – big picture; just give me the headlines.
  • Depth Orientation – give me the detail.
  • Affective Communication – non-verbal communication; using gestures, noticing the pauses, the speed of speech etc.
  • Neutral Communication –assuming all the meaning is in the words.

Think this sounds like manipulation? The difference between manipulation and influence is positive intent. What’s your intent?

Why would you speak Italian to me, when you are bilingual and you know I only speak English?

Develop awareness of your own style, notice other people’s communication preferences, and build your communication flexibility.

For successful communication, do unto other others as they would be done unto! And let me know how you go here.

Have an Extraordinary day