The worst advice your mum gave you


Pay-off: flip this on its head and you’ll help and earn co-operation from others from now on

Investment: 2 minutes

Sign up to weekly posts here

“Treat others how you would like to be treated”, your mother once told you.

You liked that idea. It made perfect sense. So as best you could, you did it.

Which is really nice. At least it appears to be. It seemed to serve you up until the day you woke up realising that you’re not as successful at leading, persuading or influencing others as you’d like to be.

Is this you?

If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I don’t get her! Why isn’t she doing this?!!” you’ve just raised your hand – I’m talking to you.

If, after putting your case across politely, respectfully, and in a way that makes sense, you ever wondered why you weren’t winning them over, it’s probably because of your mum’s loving, well-meaning, but flawed advice.

You’ve been trying to lead or sell to a version of yourself. You’ve taken your interpretation of the right approach and tried to project it onto them. You’ve taken your language, your worldview, your values, beliefs, standards, commitments, priorities and interests and then tried to sell or lead with those.

If you treat them how you want to be treated, maybe you’re mistreating them?

Meanwhile, the other person, (who secretly wanted to be treated how they wanted to be treated) politely smiled, made an effort to appear to be interested in your logic, and then disengaged asap in the easiest way possible (and under perceived threat that comes from lack of fit, which then turns into a feeling of pressure, their mum’s advice went straight out the window! They didn’t treat you how they wanted to be treated or how you wanted to be treated – they just ignored your calls and messages. And crossed the road the next day when they saw you coming.)

At the risk of sounding mind-numbingly obvious, they are not you. Actually, maybe I should have capitalised that sentence so that it lodges better in our minds? Because most of us need it getting through our “well-developed” skulls:


If you hold the timelines of your lives up side by side, you’ll notice just how different they are. They categorically do not want to be treated like you do.

How you like to buy is not necessarily how they like to buy.

How you like to be led isn’t necessarily how they like to be led.

How you like to be greeted isn’t necessarily how they even like to be greeted.

“There’s a way to do it better – find it!” – Thomas Edison

What if mum taught us to, “treat others how they want to be treated”? Or better still advised us: “if you want to really help someone, and earn their co-operation, find out how they want to be treated, then try, as best you can, to adapt to that.”

What if you asked people how they tend to make this sort of decision? Then helped them do that.

What if you asked how they typically buy this sort of thing? Then helped them do that.

What if, in order to lead them well, you asked them how they like to achieve this sort of result, and what they need from you? Then helped them do that.

P.S. I hope no mums were hurt in the making of this. It was just a vehicle to communicate an idea. Sorry, mum, if you’re reading.

Do you think someone in your network might like to read this?

If you found this post useful then perhaps some people in your network might like it too? Please consider helping it reach them with a like and a share – many thanks!

Sign up to weekly posts here


Scroll to Top