I did a fantastic job following the Golden Rule yesterday, largely because the only people I saw were my eightysomething mother and the twentysomething barista at the coffee bar. And, yes, I was able to be nice to both of them. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be this easy the rest of the year.
Also, thanks to everyone for the great conversation about the meaning of the Golden Rule. (Commentators noted: If the Golden Rule means doing unto others as you want to be done unto, then don’t we run the risk of ignoring other people’s wishes? How the heck do you know if what you want is what someone else wants? We have to take care of ourselves first before we can be there for other people. Stress can undermine our effort to be good, and yes, we need to reframe our irritations and angers into positive statements to avoid strangling each other. )
But the topic for today is trust — that is, trust and the Golden Rule. How can I treat others as nicely as I want to be treated if I fear that they are going to stab me in the neck — either literally or metaphorically — while I’m standing around being pleasant to them?
I’ve been thinking a lot about trust as my dance card as an independent writer and editor has filled up. Right now I’m working with several different clients who are scattered around the country. They all seem great, but I’m uneasy.
To be clear, so far none of them has given me a clear reason to worry. It’s my past, or more specifically, my checkered past in the workplace that’s making my heart pound. I’ve taken direct hits in the Office Politics Wars as both staffer and freelancer. Heck, twice I’ve even been collateral damage. I wasn’t the target, but my paycheck went away as I got caught in somebody else’s power struggle.
So, here’s a question for you all (and please do help me with this): Must I trust other people to apply the Golden Rule to them? If I decide that I don’t trust them, then what exactly does Golden Rule-ish behavior look like?