In April, I talked about GOLD’s second core value and the importance of keeping the positivity alive at work in ordinary and challenging situations. Today, we’re moving onto our third core value. GOLD’s third core value is: I will treat others the way I want and expect to be treated, with respect and empathy.

Of course, I’m certain that we all already know what it means to be respectful and empathetic, but I’d like to begin by taking this moment to define each.

Respect can be defined as having a deep admiration or appreciation for someone. Whether you’re commending a person for their abilities or accomplishments or taking their feelings and wishes into consideration, these are surefire ways of showing your respect for someone.

Empathy means having the ability to understand and relate to another person’s emotions or situation and being able to see things from their perspective.

The Golden Rule

When you were growing up, you probably learned about “The Golden Rule,” which is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Since then, I believe that rule has evolved into something bigger, which also plays a part into how we describe our third core value at GOLD. We believe we should treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated. Maybe this principle is already something you practice in your personal life, but when you look at your professional life, are you applying the same rule?

Each of us have our own unique qualities and bring interesting perspectives to the workplace. That’s why it’s important to remember that you may communicate and/or perform tasks in a completely different way from your team members. Although this is perfectly normal, this is where a sense of mutual respect should come into play.

Respect and Empathy at Work

Much like snowflakes, no two people are alike. When you respect the way in which another person interacts with you and performs their job duties, it shows that you are actively embracing their differences and appreciating what they bring to the workplace. When you treat others with respect, kindness, and courtesy, as well as empathize with and have compassion for them, it shows you value them as a person, and makes it easier for your team members to reciprocate it back to you.


Reciprocity builds reliability, productivity, engagement, and commitment. All of these characteristics help lead to a more positive work environment. This allows for you and your employees to grow and become more engaged together through collaboration on projects and sharing ideas, which creates a stronger company culture. We should all take pride in being kind and treating people with respect and empathy; it makes us better people. 


Choose to look at this as an opportunity to get to know your fellow team members better by finding ways to celebrate them and their ideas, or better understand who they are and where they’re coming from. Promoting an environment that cultivates respect and empathy can have a significant impact on yourself, your team members, and your organization as a whole. It creates a workplace filled with positivity and acceptance, whereas not taking time to understand and accept others’ viewpoints and values can lead to a more toxic, negative workplace. If we feel that our thoughts and ideas are being ignored, we can easily become disengaged, which can have a huge impact on how efficient an organization can operate. In most cases, people may not even realize they aren’t being receptive to others’ points of view, so it can be helpful to organize communication sessions encouraging openness among your team. 

We all have our own vision of how we’d like to be treated, and it’s important to realize that another person’s individual vision may not always align with our own. We tend to want to be judged on our intentions, yet our natural instinct is to judge others on their actions. We can’t see other’s intentions; we only see their actions. That’s why it’s easy to judge others based on what we see, without considering what may be going on in their workloads or personal lives. The best way to understand what someone’s intentions are, is to simply ask.  

Turn Your Intentions into Actions 

It’s impossible to anticipate everyone’s needs and preferences, and that’s why guesswork should be taken out of the equation in this instance. Get to know your team members and find out what makes them tick with a good old-fashioned conversation. Make them the focal point of your discussion, and practice the process of active listening, which is receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering, and responding to the information given to you. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk because you may miss out on an opportunity to form a deep connection with them. Once you start the conversation and discover how people want to be treated, you can begin to treat them in that way, but remember to always keep respect and empathy front of mind.


Also, it’s okay if you don’t hit the mark right away. Your team members will notice and appreciate your efforts, but don’t be shy to ask clarifying questions. We don’t come with manuals, so there’s a mutual understanding that there’s a learning curve. 


I truly feel that we at GOLD have embodied our third core value. I see it being practiced among team members as well as when we are assisting our great credit union Members. I’m proud to be part of a team of professionals who find genuine joy in helping our Members reach their financial goals by treating them as they wish to be treated. 

Keep an eye out for next month’s blog where I’ll be talking about core value number 4! 


Cheryl Bartholomew

Cheryl Bartholomew

Cheryl is the President & CEO at GOLD since 2009 and has over 36 years of banking experience. She ensures the happiness of all Members through positive experiences that exceed their expectations, regardless of whether it's a simple phone call, electronic transaction, or face-to-face interaction. She strives to provide a positive work environment for her employees so they continue to go above and beyond for Members. She works closely with Member Volunteers (Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee) and makes sure they feel appreciated for their contributions in setting up our Members for success. Cheryl believes that all Members can be empowered to take control of their financial well-being, and she's proud to say that we at GOLD are confident in helping them do that.

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