Jessica's Blog

The “Golden Rule” in Debate

In my Professional Writing class, my Professor, Ms. Bryant, was going over the first chapter in our textbook, Business Communication Essentials: A Skills Based Approach to vital Business English by Bovée and Thill.  In the book states:

Problems often arise when we assume that other people’s attitudes and lives are like our own.  Start by unlearning the “Golden Rule” you were probably taught as a child, to treat others how you would want them to treat you.  Instead of treating others the way you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated (page 11).

Ms. Bryant then asked the class our opinions on this statement. Should we treat others the way they want to be treated? Is there a point at which a person has crossed the line and is asking for too much?  Due to my major in Anthropology, where a person studies other human beings—more specifically—other cultures, I must constantly find the balance between these questions I’ve posed and other and other difficult ideological problems.  The term ethnocentrism: “The tendency to judge all other groups according to the standard, behaviors and customs of own group” (page 13) immediately came to mind as soon as Ms. Bryant broached this idea of the Golden Rule being outdated.  This term has been taught in every Introduction to Anthropology course since the creation of this term.  We are taught to immerse ourselves in another culture.  In the most extreme cases anthropologists may become a member, or at least an honorary member, of the people they are studying.  One Linguistic Anthropologist, by the name of Norma Mendoza-Denton in her book: Homegirls, has studied the intricacies involving language usage such as rhythm, tone, and phonetics) in Norte and Sur gang culture.  In other words, to work with the people an anthropologist wishes to study they must become totally familiar with the ways of people.

The skills of an anthropologist are very applicable to professional business in today’s every more Globalized world as western and non-western culture continuously clash.  It is inevitable. We will be working with individuals from other cultures in any professional field chosen.    This is why it is so important to develop skills to understand another person’s ideology.  Of course there will inevitably  come a point where ethics becomes an important factor in how to treat an individual (whether you choose to treat a person the way you wish to be treated or the way they wish you to treat them), but an ethical choice should still value the ideology/beliefs of another person.


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