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Goodbye Darling – Don’t Touch Anyone!

Why does my wife say this (headline) to me when I leave the house?  Well, for starters, I promise that her suggestion is not based on a past felonious misdemeanour!  But it is based on something I am likely to do which could upset someone else. Read on for why I will always heed her advice in this regard…

I hear people say it; I see people write it.  It’s a common ‘Life Value’.  Most of the good books and religious texts have a version of it…

“Do Unto Others As You Would Be Done Unto!”

The problem with this is that it will probably get you into trouble.  I speak from experience!  Let me explain… My work in the psychology of relationships has proven and reinforced many things for me over the years.  Not least of which is the observation that different people like to be treated in different ways.  Think about it… some people prefer to be extraverted and ‘Hail fellow well met’.  Hearty greetings and expressive, loud conversations are the norm.  Others prefer a more understated approach, quietly observational with a low key, calmer demeanour.

Suppose one treated the other based on their own preference? Mr Quiet would feel uncomfortable with the full-on approach of Mrs Loud – and Mrs Loud might think Mr Quiet unfriendly and distant.  Another example is that when I set the dinner table for my left-handed son, I always make sure his knife and fork are the way round that suits HIM… not the way round that suits ME (with my right-handed preference).  In other words, I treat him the way HE likes to be treated.

Now, of course, I understand that people should treat others with the respect, understanding and kindness they themselves would expect.  But THE WAY to do it is by treating people differently – not the same as ourselves.

So, back to the headline of this piece? My lovely wife, Ali, reminds me before I go to work that, just because I like people to be touchy-feely doesn’t mean that THEY do.

And the lesson…?  Do unto others… not as YOU would be done unto… but as THEY would be done unto.

Besides, who wants to be arrested at an international conference!?