When “Do as you would be done by” Doesn’t Work

So, you’re holding a meeting and you need to create conversations that flow, to which everyone contributes, and from which you feel like you are building solid relationships?  This meeting might be with your team, or maybe a new client, supplier, or collaboration – it doesn’t matter much who is there because a few things will be a given.

1) You are the one responsible for hosting the event, and therefore creating the connections, setting the expectations and creating the energy in the room.

2) Some people will be more willing to participate than others

3) Not everyone will have the same agenda

How do you go about creating an atmosphere in which relationships can be built and the work that needs to occur, happens?

There are a few simple elements that will help you do this and the first is remembering that not everyone thinks like you.  Also remember point number 3,  everyone will have a slightly different agenda.  It doesn’t matter if we all know what the end result is supposed to be, each person in a room has their own motivation for being there, and no two people are motivated in the same way.  Everyone in the room will also have their own communication style … and THIS is what you need to look, or more specifically, listen, out for.

The best way to engage those who don’t seem to share their ideas, is to observe and listen.  The best way to create the connections so that everyone works together effectively and relationships are built with respect and productivity … is NOT to “Do as you would be done by” … but, instead, become aware of how each person likes to communicate – and treat, and communicate with them, in the way that THEY would like to be done by.

There are a lot of personality profiling tools out there, and I am not an expert in any of them – but I have worked with a few and for the purposes of this article I’m going to use the basics of the DISC model.

The first thing you need to do is know who YOU are.  Whichever personality profiling tool you use – know where you sit in it – and be aware of where you shift to  depending on the situation.  What happens when you’re under stress?  How do you change how you communicate when things are going well?  Who are the people who create the biggest challenges for you to communicate with, and how do you need to adapt in order to get the results that you are looking for?

(By the way – this stuff is also priceless for your personal relationships … more challenging to implement, but the benefits of self-awareness around how you communicate in different situations can be invaluable)

When you know your overriding style you will have an awareness of the things you either tend to miss out, or give too much of, of the things that are important to you and the things that are not.  This is great.  Unfortunately the room won’t be made up of people who think and communicate in the same way as you.  Most basic personality profiles have four elements (of which most of us are a mix and it can really depend on the kind of day you’ve had!)

You need to communicate why you are all there, and what result you are looking for, but not just in the way that YOU understand it – but in a way that the other types in the room will understand it too.  If, for example, you are a high ‘I’ in DISC … you may be likely to skim on details that the ‘C’s in the room will be craving – so it would be great to remember to say “If anyone would like to see the details then I’ve got a print out” … or “ask me later” … if perhaps, you are a high ‘S’ then you may be focused on how the outcome is going to effect everyone – but the ‘D’s in the room will be wanting the bullet points of what results it’s going to bring. …


Being aware and referencing those elements for others, will help you give clarity of purpose to more people in the room and make it more likely that you will get interaction and understanding.  Building relationships takes time.  It also takes communication.  If we take the time to communicate with people in a way that they respond to best – you speed up the relationship building process and save on mixed or misunderstood messages.

One of the biggest communication challenges is that some people just don’t like speaking up and sharing what they are thinking, or feeling.  Some of this has to do with who we are as people and the rest is to do with the experiences we have suffered.  These are the two main elements that I repeatedly work with, with all my clients.

There are however simple ways to elicit communication from everyone and I’m going to give you three simple tools to try now:

  • Round table – make sure that each person has an amount of time to speak uninterrupted by others. They have to share (thoughts, feelings, ideas, or opinions) without interruption by anyone else.
  • Notice the people who tend to jump in and speak across other people (These will likely be your high Is and Ds) – mostly they are NOT deliberately being rude – it’s just their nature. If this happens a lot and it isn’t sparking relevant or useful conversation and ideas – take the moment to ask them to note their idea and let the other person finish talking.  There are lots of people who stop sharing in meetings because they feel they are ‘spoken over’ – and then you lose out on potentially great solutions and ideas.
  • Change it up – use different ways of communication to engage everyone. Get people drawing, moving, reading, writing and this way you also encompass the different ways people learn and create.

So there it is; a few good reasons why not to ‘do as you would be done by’ … because not everyone wants to be treated the same way that you do – and a few tools for you to play with to see what works for you.

What is your experience in this area? Comment below and let me know