The Golden Rule, Relationships, and Other Meanderings

golden rule

The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Its origins date back to the Bible in Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets”.  It’s something that parents generally teach their children. It’s something that we who employ others tell our employees. 

In transportation, it doesn’t matter whether you are talking to the driver, dispatcher, procurement manager, supervisor, appointment clerk, supply chain manager, transportation manager or owner. Use professionalism and respect. Choose your words well and don’t leave room for regret once you say or do something. Whether used in a personal or professional setting, the golden rule is best interpreted as saying: “Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation.” To apply it, you’d imagine yourself on the receiving end of the action in the exact place of the other person (which includes having the other person’s likes and dislikes). If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule.

However, in our diverse, modern world, it can be less than ideal. By assuming other people should be treated the way I want to be treated, it imposes my preferences and values on those around me. Wouldn’t a better rule be “One should treat others as they want to be treated”?

I have had the pleasure to be in transportation sales since the manufacturer’s guide was invented. That, for those of you under the age of say 40, was a paper hardbound book, published by state, that was to include every manufacturer in that state organized by city. That’s how we did sales calls. You got the book and you started looking people up and calling them. Everyone knew the purpose of my call was to solicit business. Whether it happened right away or in the future was all a matter of the needs of the prospective customer. Even today, with all the super cool gadgets like LinkedIn and Zoom and all the others I am not aware, if your timing is bad, you’ll not be getting any business.

The biggest difference I see today, versus back in the day, is that today, people tell me to develop a “relationship” before soliciting my business. This confuses me. I’m a transportation sales person and you are a person who spends money on transportation. If I send you a LinkedIn request, what would you suppose is the purpose of that request? From my perspective, it is for the two of us to explore working together. If one day we do that, then you’ll learn about my wife and my kids and my hobbies etc.… I mean, I’ve got what, 15 seconds on the phone to make a good impression? If you answer. The LinkedIn world today wants to reverse that. I see lengthy articles and videos saying don’t ask me out until we get to know each other. I’m lost as to how that works. Why is that?

First, it takes two to tango. If you want a relationship, you need to reply to an email or answer the phone. I’m not sure how we can develop a relationship if one keeps trying and one doesn’t try at all. One day last week I got five emails from five different people and not one of them included the person’s phone number. I’ve emailed some of those people back and they tell me they only communicate via email. My guess is they are the same person you meet on the street who won’t make eye contact. What in the world! Does the President of the company know they have employees with business cards and no phone numbers?

Second, I tell people on LinkedIn not to add me unless you look at my profile and think we have something in common that would allow us to have a conversation. My guess is that 75% (no scientific evidence here, just my gut) of the Connections on LinkedIn are nothing more than two people who can list one another as a connection. They have never spoke and worse yet, may have never looked at each other’s profile. Most of my LinkedIn connections, once we connected, have never responded to my messages, emails or phone calls. Whether I was congratulating them on an anniversary, a promotion, or their sports team winning the Championship.                    Cricket.                                       Cricket.

Back to my Golden Rule premise. I’ve said this for too long. Society today is a throwaway society. Anything you own breaks; you throw it away and get a new one. The repair shop is obsolete. On the business side of the world it applies to suppliers, vendors, and service providers. On the personal side it applies to spouses and friends. You made me mad. I’ll find a new one. The repair shop here is obsolete as well. I look at a resume today and I see someone has had seven jobs in 18 months and I think that person cannot hold a job. The digital marketing guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, tells his followers just the opposite. The employer didn’t do what they were supposed to do, so the employee was right to leave. It’s just a different way of thinking. A different way of viewing the world.

I would like to think that I treat my wife and my friends as I like to be treated. I would like to think that I treat the people who work for our company the same way. I know I treat our carriers and customers that way. 

But I think we can all do a better job. Could we actually talk sometime?


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