Being able to know how to treat your friend under different circumstances creates the most powerful tool for enjoying the best interpersonal relationship you have ever imagined.
‘Treat others how you or they want to be treated’ might be a short sentence that you have heard in time past, but do you know that being able to choose the variant that yields the best result is tied to a mediator called UNDERSTANDING?
Over the next couple of weeks, you will be enjoying a series of six inexhaustible interpersonal relationship areas that needs the power of understanding so as to know how best to treat others.
For this week, however, the focus is on the place of understanding in our friendships by choosing to either treat our friends how we want to be treated or how they want to be treated.
Looking at historic facts, I found that how to treat others can either fall under the ‘golden rule’ or the ‘platinum rule’. The golden rule represents the first variant ‘treat others how you want to be treated’ and its earliest use was in the 17th century by two British men, Charles Gibbon and Thomas Jackson, who were Anglican Theologians.
The platinum rule on the other hand was created as a superior rule by critics of the golden rule who said that due to individual differences, it is better to treat others how they want to be treated.
Let me ask you, do you know the way your friend wants to be treated? Of course, you cannot boldly answer that question without knowing and understanding your friend. It is when you understand your friend that you would know if you both share the same feelings on issues or have different opinions, further helping you both to know how to relate with one another.
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The mighty.com defines a friend as someone who understands you and if they don’t, they try to. The truth is, you cannot know how best to treat your friend if you do not understand them.
What I am saying is, to know the variant of the rules to apply to your friendship is determined by your level of understanding of your friend. Showing understanding is a realisation that you know how a person feels or why they do what they do and in return you are able to build the best friendship with them.
The importance of understanding your friend
Two very important aspects in your friendship that requires understanding are:
Take for example, the story of two friends, Bayo and Wole who argued all the time and found it so hard to tell each other the truth because of the fear of more disagreements. Bayo and Wole could personally not stand anyone correcting them in harsh tones or with harsh words, but at different points of trying to correct one another, they ended up doing to themselves what they both disliked.
I personally believe that no one wants be corrected in a harsh tone, but when you understand your friend, you will know whether to correct them how you would love to be corrected or how they would love to be corrected, if at all they share a different correction technique.
Jola and Titi are always on and off in their friendship because Jola is always accusing Titi of not checking on her regularly. What Titi has not come to understand is that Jola is the type of person who always wants to be in touch with her friend. Jola on the other hand does not understand her friend enough to know that Titi is not of the opinion that friends have to talk all the time and in fact loves it when they haven’t spoken for a while so that when they do, there would be so much to talk about.
This is the situation of so many of us and reaching a reasonable compromise has proved futile. The truth is, compromise cannot be achieved in your friendship when there is no proper understanding. Your communication with your friend becomes better when you both understand how each of you loves to communicate and then make a compromise on whether to use what you love on the other person or embrace each other’s differences.
How to build understanding in your friendship
You should know that understanding a person cannot be forced and as sad as it might sound, there are some persons that will never understand you and some persons that you will never be able to understand.
The first step to building understanding in your friendship is by having honest and truthful conversations. In these conversations, ask questions, answer questions truthfully, and give clarity where necessary. Your friend can only know as much as you make them to know if not you leave them to making assumptions which might end up being untrue.
The second step is by embracing the virtue of patience and consciously accepting individual differences where necessary. This is for situations where you would have to treat your friend how they want to be treated and not how you want to be treated. It is one thing to understand how your friend wants to be treated and it is another thing to patiently learn how to treat them that way.
The third step which I consider the most important is feedback and continued communication. You need to create a good feedback mechanism in your friendship. Of course, the way to go about giving each other feedback is determined by your level of understanding of one another. Feedback will allow you to know areas that are perfect and the areas that need adjustments. Any friendship that has no effective feedback mechanism will most likely not last long.
In conclusion, to build a long lasting and healthy friendship, bear in mind that the joint effort of the parties involved is highly required. Also, you cannot know whether to treat your friend how you want to be treated or how they want to be treated when you have not taken the steps to understand them.