The ethic of reciprocity or the Golden Rule which in essence states that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, or to not treat others in ways that we would not like to be treated sometimes known as the Silver Rule.
It seems pretty simple, treat others how you want to be treated. And I will assume we all like to be treated well, with kindness and politeness and forgiveness and acceptance. But I think that’s the irony, it is not simple.
It’s not simple because we are imperfect beings, so we don’t follow the ethic of reciprocity 100% of the time. And when someone isn’t obeying that ethic it makes it challenging for us to obey it because it is not reciprocal. Is it even possible to apply and live by the Golden Rule?
Maybe it’s about fairness, we all want to be treated fairly. Why should we be fair to someone who isn’t fair to us? And the only answer I can come up with is that it’s the right thing to do because we can’t orchestrate our lives based on other people actions.
Accountability comes up in my conversations a lot. What it feels like I encounter is people who are not accountable. MY personal opinion is that people who are accountable to no one can be destructive. Accountability is really accounting for ones behaviours, decisions and choices, so answering to it or for it. I also think that accountability is part of love. If you love someone you hold them accountable. Because being accountable for our actions makes us better people. It makes us better people because it helps us define, develop and uphold our integrity.
And the golden rule should be more achievable with our integrity intact right?
Being in a leadership position, and remember we can be leaders of our family, friend group, organization, team or similar, accountability is imperative to your functionality and foundation. If you are not holding your team accountable it will insight gossip, mistrust and fractured communications. It will hinder your ability to have the Golden Rule as part of your engagement rules.
This applies to parenthood, spouses, friends, employers and institutions like banks or mortgage companies. It might feel uncomfortable to hold people accountable, but just like when someone treats you very differently than you wish to be treated and reciprocity is at your will, doing the right thing is the answer.
So how do you do that? How do you hold people accountable?
You clearly communicate expectations, then reinforce those expectations, reward achievement, offer constructive correction when off course and then reiterate the expectation and or agreement. And in the event where mistakes or failures or irresponsibility occur, you query respectfully but convincingly and hold your position until an explanation is provided and a new course or corrective action is agreed to. You administer the golden rule of how and what and when and why and you abide by that rule.
And when you falter on the ethic of reciprocity, you own it, you apologize for it, you correct it and you start over.