The Career Within You

Finding the perfect job for your personality

Debunking The Golden Rule

The outmoded Golden Rule promotes projection; here's an improved version.

The Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," works only on a superficial level, as in "I won't cut off your arm because I don't want you to cut off mine." A subtler, gentler, and more meaningful guideline would be, "Do unto others as they would like to be done to." Otherwise, we just project our own needs and desires out without calling upon our empathy.
There's no better tool than the Enneagram for empathy awareness. Let's say I'm the boss and you want to quit because you don't feel appreciated. I like your work so I'm going to try to improve your situation and get you to stay. I'm determined not to foist my personality traits onto you, but to see you for who you are:

• If you're a Perfectionist career type, I'll ask you if you haven't been getting enough credit for your accomplishments or for going above and beyond what your job calls for. I'll see if perhaps you're carrying more of a workload than your co-workers and you don't feel that's fair.
• If you're a Helper career type, I'll tell you how much I appreciate your attention to the rest of the staff and how much the business has thrived with you looking out for us and it.
• If you're an Achiever, I'll ask if you need more opportunities for advancement than you have had and if you have enough to do. Extra praise should help, too.
• If you're a Romantic, I'll check to see if you're finding sufficient avenues for expression in your job, if you have enough alone time at work to recharge, and if things are okay on a social level.
• If you're an Observer, like I am, I'll check to see if you feel invaded by co-workers. I'll also ask you if your work is stimulating enough.
• If you're a Questioner, I'll ask you if you have any concerns about safety or loyalty issues. Is your work interesting enough and do you have any worries that I can help put to rest?
• If you're an Adventurer, I'll ask if your work is too repetitive and if you have enough variety and networking opportunities throughout the day to make you happy.
• If you're an Asserter, I'll ask if you have enough independence and if you're using your energy sufficiently. You are likely to have energy to burn.
• If you're a Peace Seeker, I'll ask you if you're content with your co-workers, since too much conflict can be a problem for you. I'll also see if it would help to optimize your level of physical comfort.
As you can see from the above examples, if I were to coax my employees to stay working for me by treating all nine types the way I'd treat myself, most of them would quit! For example, I might like being offered more privacy, but such an offer to a sociable Adventurer-type people-person would probably drive him to look for something more socially fulfilling.

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Elizabeth Wagele is the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.


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