The fundamental issue in human ethical behavior is summarized by Jesus in what we have come to call "The Golden Rule." Jesus put it this way:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12 TNIV).
It asks us to test our treatment of others by putting ourselves in their place. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you in the same or similar circumstance.
Somebody took that principle and translated it into Ten Commandments of Human Relations. You may have seen this anonymous piece, for it circulates in a variety of settings. In case you have missed it, I am reproducing it here.
- Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.
- Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown, only 14 to smile.
- Call people by name. It is music to anyone’s ears to hear the sound of his or her name.
- Be friendly and helpful.
- Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is genuinely a pleasure. If it isn’t, learn to make it so.
- Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost anyone, if you try.
- Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.
- Be considerate of the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy — yours, the other fellow’s, and the correct one.
- Be alert to serve. What counts most in life is what you do for others.
- Live with a good sense of humor, a generous dose of patience, and a dash of humility appropriate to being human.
The great challenge in human experience is not work skills, but people skills. That is, research has shown that the majority of people who fail in their vocation do so because they cannot get along with people.
You might think through the meaning of these ten common-sense ideas for your own workplace and personal activity. But what about the larger setting for your daily life? These principles work everywhere you go, for they are about showing respect to the people you meet in all those places.
Made in God’s image, all of us have something to be valued, affirmed, and acknowledged by others. But let it begin with us to acknowledge it in them. As the cycle of giving and receiving enlarges, the human community comes alive.