The Golden Rule should be the gold standard in human relationships, but my experience tells me it seldom is. I think we're all a bit confused about just what it means to be respectful of others. The fact remains, we all have within us a desire to be treated with respect, even when we disagree.
We live in a pluralistic society with a myriad of hot button issues. In the discussions, debates, and arguments over those issues, it can be easy to see how rarely the Golden Rule is utilized. Instead of approaching a discussion with calm collected reason and logic, we see both sides maliciously attack one another's background, character, and intelligence.
In the marketplace, both as consumers and employees, we see companies and managers act disrespectfully towards people. Companies refuse to stand behind their product and managers fail to be open and honest with employees.
If we all agree that the Golden Rule is a great thing, then why don't we follow it more uniformly?
The problem is that we've become very confused about how to apply respect in our interactions with one another. Respect doesn't mean rubber stamping or rolling over for someone else's viewpoint. Instead, respect insists that we see each other for who we really are, people with feelings. The Golden Rule asks that we share truth with people with whom we disagree, but without attacking them as people. It's entirely possible to have an intellectual debate over an issue and to still be friends with your debate opponent. At their core, they're still a human person worthy of dignity and respect.
If a company is disrespectful towards you, they're unworthy of your business, so take your dollars elsewhere. If your employer is disrespectful, they’re unworthy of having you as an employee, so take your services elsewhere.
While we want everyone else to adhere to the Golden Rule, the only person that we can really force to change is ourselves. Although respect may not be reciprocated, set a good example. Be mindful of your interactions and treat others with the respect that they deserve.