The Golden Rule of Interaction

The Golden Rule of Interaction

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Engagement
Reading Time (Minutes)
3

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Some dude once said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and we've decided it's The Golden Rule.

Well, let me propose an alternative.

I'm calling it The Golden Rule of Interaction. (Yes, all part of my ploy to become a historical celebrity.)

Here it is:

Interact with others as you would expect them to interact with you.

The Golden Rule of Interaction: Interact with others as you would expect them to interact with you.

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How to use The Golden Rule

It’s simple: when you’re interacting with someone, structure the conversation according to YOUR expectations.

Take the entire variable of “what are they going to say/do?” out of it.

If you’re going to a VIP list party, talk to the bouncer like he’s definitely going to let you in.

If you’re talking to your manager at work, behave like she’s going to promote you in this cycle.

If you’re speaking with a potential community member, address them like they’re totally sold and excited to join.

(At this point, I should caveat that I’m a bit of a snarky writer, so you can never take me 100% seriously. Also, I write mercilessly without nuance, yet everything in this world has nuance. Good tidings be to you.)

Case studies

Please note that these are mostly intended for laughs, and not for research purposes. But also slightly for research purposes, especially if you keep reading.

Case study 1: Win new family members

I was at a friend’s wedding recently. His grandmother gave an excellent toast. Pre-Golden Rule Nivi wouldn’t have talked to her.

But I was thinking about this Rule, and walked up to her as if I was about to be her newest family member. I said, “I loved your speech. Will you adopt me as your grandchild?” and she said “I’m always looking for more kids!” and told everyone else in the room over the course of the night.

Case study 2: Defeat the patriarchy

I used to work with Josh, the King of Mansplaining. It always made me insecure to work with him, since I assumed he knew what he was doing. He really did sound smart! I woke up one day and wondered what it would be like if I assumed that I was in fact, much more capable than Josh. I interacted with him as if I expected this outcome.

Turns out, that meant asking a lot of “why do you think that?”, and learning that he collapses like a deck of cards since none of his statements were based on anything other than ✨vibes✨!

Ok but for real: The Pygmalion Effect

Turns out that Some Other Dude* already designed The Golden Rule of Interaction, and it’s called The Pygmalion Effect.

The Pygmalion effect describes situations where someone’s high expectations improves our behavior and therefore our performance in a given area. It suggests that we do better when more is expected of us.

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What does this have to do with community building?

This has EVERYTHING to do with community building!

As leaders and connectors, we’re often hesitant to ask more of our members. We’re scared of wasting people’s time or taking advantage of their offers.

But as Pygmalion said*, we do better when more is expected of us.

As Nivi said, interact with others as you would expect them to interact with you.

One of the biggest challenges community leaders face is how to scale themselves. This bleeds into confusion around building out super user programs, engaging members, localizing chapters, and more.

It may not be easy, but it sure is simple: we should expect more of our members. And they will do better to honor the vision we share!

This is a major internal shift, but it’s 🔑 if we want to unlock our community’s true potential.

Special thanks to Jesus Christ, Pygmalion, Aphrodite, Robert Rosenthal, and Lenore Jacobsen for inspiring this article.

*Also, the Pygmalion effect was researched by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobsen, the latter of whom is not a dude. It’s named after the Greek myth of Pygmalion, who basically wished a pretty woman’s statue to come to life. If you’re having trouble on the dating apps, this one’s for you!

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