By Dennis J. Shindle, Jr. CPA, CCIFP, Senior Manager, Rotz & Stonesifer, P.C.

A huge topic of many management training courses/seminars that I’ve attended is the challenge and opportunity of three different generations of employees and business owners working at the same time. People often interpret the various generations within the workforce as a negative problem that is causing conflict. I would like to share the perspective of a Young Professional that is a part of the “millennial generation”.

I heard a comment during a conference call between Young Professionals across the county that has changed my perspective greatly. The speaker stated that we all needed to stop following the “Golden Rule.” Having grown up hearing “treat others as you wish to be treated”, my initial reaction was doubt and dismissal. This was the saying that people have used to tell people to treat each other fairly and appropriately. How can we just throw it out the window?

Our society has always taken the assumption that you are treating people fairly and appropriately if you are treating them as you would treat yourself. The logic of the “Golden Rule” is appropriate if everyone thinks and acts the same way. This is obviously the not the case, especially with individuals from three generations interacting and conducting business together on a daily basis. The people with whom you are interacting may not have the same perspective as you. Therefore, treating them exactly as you would treat yourself may not be appropriate with that individual.

We need to rewrite the “Golden Rule” to “treat others as they wish to be treated.” You must take the time to get to know the individuals with whom you are interacting with and treat them as they desire to be treated. The way you respond to the exact same situation may be different with different people, depending on their background and personality.

In conclusion, I think we need to hold off on throwing the “Golden Rule” out the window. We do, however, need to adjust the wording a little. The world as a whole has changed significantly in recent years. The interactions between various cultures and ages have increased dramatically. To be an efficient leader, businessperson, friend, coworker, etc., we must get to know people and treat them accordingly. It is easy to have a default response based on your experiences. My challenge to everyone is for you to ignore the stereotype of the person with which you are interacting and get to know them as individuals.

October 1, 2019