Human beings, of necessity, depend on one another. As John Donne said some 400 years ago, “No man is an island.”
But we all know that when groups of people gather together, there is often dissension. Even in couples or small groups, simply getting along is often a problem. And that is the problem that we must address if we wish to be effective in relating positively to one another. Because we also know that cooperation leads to greater productivity, while dissension often gives the opposite result!
Most of us grew up with the Golden Rule; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A great message, but taken literally, it simply does not work! How I would like to be treated is not necessarily the way you would like to be treated! We are all different – with different patterns of behavior and different perceptions of what appeals to us, and how we want to be treated.
After studying this situation, Dr. Tony Alessandra came with his Platinum Rule – “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” A big difference! The Platinum Rule is all about accommodating the feelings of others. The focus of relationship-building shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll try to give it to them.” The goal of The Platinum Rule is using personal chemistry to develop productive relationships. You do not have to change your personality. You do not have to roll over and submit to others. You simply have to understand what drives people, and recognize your options for dealing with them.
Since the dawn of history people have been trying to explain why people behave in the way that they do. There are many explanations for behavior and all of them can be helpful. The most important thing to remember is that your behavior is not the same as your personality. Behavior is an acquired characteristic, and can be changed if we wish to do it.
William Marston, writing in the mid 1930’s, indicated that people could be divided into 4 groups based on their perception of the environment, and their personal power over it. This was the basis for the development of the world renowned DiSC Dimensions of Behavior reports, now used by over 40 million people world-wide. His four categories and their main characteristics include:
- D – Dominance: Authority and Results
- i – Influence: Influence and persuasion
- S – Steadiness: Cooperation and Loyalty
- C – Conscientiousness: Quality and Accuracy
It is important to realise that there are no “pure” examples of any one type. We are all a mix of two or more of these types, though we will usually tend toward one type – most of the time. As always – it is up to us!
If we want to get along with other people then we must make adapting a priority. We must understand our own strengths, but we also must understand the strengths and feeling of others and acknowledge that they may be different from our own. The following are five key behaviors, or requirements, for creating and maintaining strong relationships. They are embodied in the acronym R.A.I.S.E.
R stands for reliability: I do what I say I will do.
Reliability is probably the most obvious attribute in building a relationship. People, teams and organizations are continually being assessed on their reliability. Do they do what they say they will do? Can you count on them to keep agreements or commitments? Do they achieve the standards they claim to, or that you expect? Is it a “most of the time” effort or an “all the time” effort?
A stands for Acceptance: who you are is okay with me.
Accepting people the way they are is vital in building relationships. To the degree that we accept other people the way they are, we demonstrate the value of diversity. Acceptance is the opposite of judging. Most managers, and some others, see “judging” as part of their role, and they are right – to a point! Judging or evaluating performance is important; acceptance of all people is essential!
I is for Integrity: Honesty, Moral uprightness
Being honest in your dealing with others; Forthrightness – standing up for what is right: Telling the whole truth; living up to the Commandments that God has provided; Admitting mistakes when mistakes are made. A person of respect and trust!
S is for Sincerity: I say what I mean and mean what I say
Willing to give and receive feedback; being open. It is “practicing what you preach” or “walking the talk”. Basically it is “integrity in action”.
E is for Encouragement: I appreciate who you are and will help you
But it is more than lending a helping hand; it is willingness to help that person become all that they were created capable of being. It is coaching, guiding, praising, and constructively criticizing. It is the act of drawing out the gifts a person has within them, and bringing them to fruition.
People want to be around other people that they know, like and trust. This is most likely to occur if we practice all these characteristics of RAISE.
We need to work together, and to work together effectively we need to understand that all people are not like us. To enlist their help we must reach out to them, in a mutually respectful relationship. And if we are going to work together effectively, we must understand that we are all different – with different needs and expectations.
While, in building relationships, it is important to be conscientious in using all five requirements of relationship building, special emphasis must be placed on meeting the expectations of the person whose relationship you want to gain. The biggest challenge for all of us is when we need to build a strong and lasting relationship with someone who has the characteristics of the opposite style of our own. But as Stephen Covey said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”
The bottom line is that if we are willing to put out the effort, and focus on using these behaviors to build stronger relationships based on Reliability, Acceptance, Integrity, Sincerity, and Encouragement, the rewards are there. It is up to each one of us.
It is our ability to adapt our behaviour to build strong and lasting relationships that will determine how successful we are in our daily lives.