What is It Like to Be on the Other Side of Me?

In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton

how do you treat other peopleI was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour and of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta!). We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama, to refuel, then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes once we landed before we were able to get a gate to deplane. As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly!). Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.

The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (and remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays!), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet … and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email, and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.

Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who of course don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.

Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled, “What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and your actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you?  Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant? Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store? Would you want to be your friend? Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you? Would you want to be your own customer? Would you want to be dating you? Would you want to be married to you? Why or why not?

We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves, and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept … at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.

What about you? You are looking for a relationship. You have prepared your online dating profile. You connect with people via email, then via phone, and ultimately, schedule a date in person. Is what you are putting out there really you? Are you being honest with yourself and the people reading your profile, or are you being someone you aren’t?

Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good, or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others.  At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side and like who you see! Smile!

How often do you think about how you treat other people in your life?

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com.  Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.

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