RHB Litmus Test

Some people ask, ‘what would Jesus do?’.

Equally useful is to ask, ‘what would an RHB – a Real Human Being do?’.

Recently, I attended a meeting of a professional association of which I’m a member, where the speaker was going to be one of our own colleagues. In a preliminary meeting, someone suggested that we greet this speaker with a standing ovation, right at the outset, before he ever has a chance to begin his speech.

A number of people enthusiastically jumped on the band wagon. Others were reluctant and even unwilling. They felt that a speaker should `earn’ the standing ovation.

If you examine this situation using our habitual criteria of merit and reward, you may indeed say that a speaker has to earn his reward. After all, why would we reward someone who hasn’t worked hard for it? Let him sweat a bit before we shower him with approval, we might say.

On the other hand, if you examine this situation using the ‘Real Human Being’ filter, you arrive at a different result altogether. Using this lens, you may want to make the speaker feel supported and appreciated just for the heck of it. After all, we might say, here’s a great opportunity to Lift Up, Team Up, and Lighten Up. Clearly, providing the advance incentive is the right RHB thing to do.

And here’s the funny thing: if you behave like an RHB and provide that support in advance with no strings attached, the speaker will feel compelled to reciprocate the generous sentiment by delivering his absolute best performance.  Indeed, research shows that we humans are hard-wired to even out the imaginary social ledger by reciprocating good deeds done for us, in fact that is why we feel compelled to utter a Thank You in response to anything that puts us in a `social debt’ situation.  

And once the grateful, energized speaker delivers his top performance, it is highly likely that his or her speech will in fact deserve a true standing ovation.

Which is exactly what happened in our case.

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