Growing up, I was taught you treated everyone the same. It didn’t matter if they were the bank president or the peon —they all were treated with the same level of respect. Not everyone was raised that way, however, and there’s enough rude people in the world as evidence to that fact.
I read once that you could tell a lot about a person by a few things — how they treated animals and how they treated people that were serving them in some way.
Character, according to Goethe, is how you treat someone who can do absolutely nothing for you.
Your character is central to your very being. It is the set of rules by which you live your life. It is how you make important decisions. It is how you are known by other people. Do you want to be known as a mean person or a kindly person?
Are you known as Mr. Generous or as Mr. Miser? You will be known as something. How you treat others, especially those who can do nothing for you, will help form your reputation. Relationships function like a mirror–eventually that change will reflect back onto how you are treated.
Here are nine important principles to remember about how to treat others:
1. Instead of judging people by their past, stand by them and help them build their future. Everyone has a past. Some are a source of pride, and others are best left behind. But whatever their past, people do change and grow, so instead of judging, stand by and support them as they move toward their future. Treat them with respect and make their journey your own.
2. Listen with curiosity, speak with candor, and act with integrity. Listening and curiosity allow relationships to thrive. Speaking your truth allows people to be honest with themselves and with you, and acting with integrity keeps relationships on a high standard. Relationships need curiosity to grow, candor to deepen, and integrity to continue.
3. Treat everyone with kindness–not because they are kindhearted, but because you are. One of the greatest gifts we can give another is kindness. If someone is in need, lend a helping hand. Don’t do it only for the people you like and respect–that’s easy–but also for the ones who drive you crazy and those you don’t even know. True kindness lies in the act of giving without the expectation of getting something in return.
4. Don’t try to make yourself great by making someone else look small. The moment you think you have the right to belittle others because you are better than they are is the moment you prove you have no power. People tend to make others feel how they themselves feel, whether it’s great or small. If you can’t offer help, support, or love, at least do everything in your power not to hurt them or make them feel small. Treat everyone you meet with honor.
5. Remember, everyone has a story. It may be something they’ve gone through in the past or something they’re still dealing with, but remember that behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Everyone has inner battles and issues. Withhold judgment and instead offer the consideration you’d like to receive.
6. We don’t meet people by accident. Every person you meet will have a role in your life, be it big or small. Some will help you grow, some will hurt you, some will inspire you to do better. At the same time, you are playing some role in their lives as well. Know that paths cross for a reason and treat people with significance.
7. The best teachers are those who don’t tell you how to get there but show the way. There is no better joy then helping people see a vision for themselves, seeing them go to levels higher than they ever would have imagined on their own. But that doesn’t mean you have to fix them or enable them; instead, guide them to the source of their own power. Offer them support and motivation as they find their own way and show you what they’re capable of. All you have to do is believe in them.
8. Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up. We like to think of life as a meritocracy, so it’s easy to look down on someone who isn’t as successful or accomplished or well educated as you are. But you have no idea how far that person has already climbed or where they will end up. Time could easily reverse your positions, so be sure you treat everyone with dignity.
9. Appreciate those who have supported you, forgive those who have hurt you, help those who need you. Business is complicated, life is complex, and leadership is difficult. Treat all people–including yourself–with love and compassion, and you can’t go wrong.
Treat people the way you want to be treated and life will instantly get better.