Even though most tip their hat to the idea of playing nice, so much of human behavior is self-centered. It’s why we say, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world.” “You have to look out for #1.” “Don’t get over it; get even.”
Looking out for myself even at expense of others. Getting even, responding in like kind. Those tend to be the governing principles that guide our personal and business relationships.
And it doesn’t work. Unless, of course, you don’t give a rip about others.
A Contrarian Approach In Dealing With Others
Jesus, as He did so well in so many areas of life, messed with our whole mindset and taught a completely different way to relate to others. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, He said,
Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Boom! Droppin’ gold. Literally, the Golden Rule. The granddaddy of all interpersonal relationship principles.
Treating others the way you would like to be treated, whether you ever are or not.
Jesus’ way is contrary to treating others just as they treat you. If we all did that, humanity would self-destruct overnight.
His way is not dependent on others treating you the way you want to be treated before you respond in like kind. That’s pretty much they way many live now.
Instead, Jesus says the only way to improve our human condition is to live by a higher standard. To take the lead and act independently of how others may act. To not return evil for evil, or stupid with stupid.
Not Necessarily Easy. No Guarantees. Yet No Better Way.
It take some retraining. You’ll have to work at not responding reactively but more proactively.
In every situation—especially when others act like jerks—you counter your impulse by asking, “What if I were this person—how would I want to be treated?” Then do that.
This is why I so often stress respect for others and courtesy. It’s all based on treating others as we want to be treated.
It won’t guarantee others will treat you with the same respect and courtesy. But you can’t be responsible for how others treat you. You are only responsible for how you treat others.
Even though others may not treat you the way you would like, the chances increase greatly by taking the lead and treating them with respect and courtesy.
So exercise your power of choice and responsibility. Mess with those around you—treat them differently than what they expect. Treat them better, with respect, courtesy, and giving the benefit of the doubt. I can guarantee you’ll be better in the long run and feel better at the end of each day.
Question: How do you override our natural tendency to respond in like kind? Share your answer in the comments below.