Golden Rule in Business Etiquette


Standards for professional interaction hinge largely on the idea of the Golden Rule. Everyone wants to be heard — including you. Thus, applying the Golden Rule, listening and really hearing others is an essential competent of business behaviour. Not only will you gain your listeners’ respect, but you are likely to do your job better because you have better understanding. As a rule, good listeners have an easier time having their voices heard because the Golden Rule works two ways and compels others to listen especially to someone who listens to them.


Being professional requires being polite, respectful and keeping personal issues and feelings secondary to the role required of you. When speaking to others, you have to consider how you would want someone to approach you. Generally, this is useful when taking a stab at how to communicate with someone new. However, the key to the Golden Rule is recognizing that not everyone is the same. So, to speak to someone they way you would want to be spoken to, means speaking to them in a manner that suits them. The goal is the comfort and respect the listener hears. As you get to know people or get a read on them, you should adjust your tone and style to match your audience.


Being a good and effective manager involves several components. The Golden Rule addresses how managers interact with their teams. Managers performing employee evaluations should consider what it feels like to be evaluated and how the individual will react. There are many ways to deliver a critique, so choose one that leaves employees with dignity and opportunity. Smart managers not only can extend respect, but also get some good ideas by asking for employee input. Give people an opportunity to speak and be heard. People love to be heard and to know their views are considered. Similarly, although it may not be pleasant, letting someone know in a polite, respectful way why they were overruled or passed over for an opportunity gives them the consideration people crave.

Intercultural Interaction

Whether in your workplace or when dealing with international business partners, the Golden Rule means considering that there are other ways of interacting and seeing things. Trying to understand what someone with different cultural norms, expectations and habits shows the person respect, builds trust and strengthens important relationships. Doing this may mean reading up on cultural habits and communication styles before an international trip or video conference. It may also mean taking the time to find other ways of explaining what you mean. Being professional with the Golden Rule means understanding that things do not revolve around you and your ways.


The common denominator of all ways to apply the Golden Rule is affording respect. Reciprocation is in fact, a way to demonstrate that respect. Whether dealing with the highest or lowest person in your organization, a customer, a vendor or anyone you deal with in business, affording respect contributes to your own integrity — which is of course, the hallmark and highest quality of a professional.

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