You've heard it before, and you practice it nearly every day. It's called the “Golden Rule.” Do unto others. Treat others how you like to be treated.
It's a simple philosophy. Nearly every religion is based on the Golden Rule. In fact, all major religions share that value.
In business, you're out to crush your competitor. Or at least take his business. You want the customers' money. There is no room for empathy, or is there?
Can you really care about your customer or your competitor? Well, if you want to be successful in business, you'd better learn how.
In EVERY business transaction, all parties involved must benefit by virtually the same measure. I buy your product for $27 because I perceive it to give me at least that much in value. Otherwise, I'd be better off not buying it.
Same goes for you. You trade a book you've written for $27 because you value the transaction (and much more importantly the relationship) at least worth the financial gain.
So, the Golden Rule does apply to business. What? What about your competition? You want all of his customers right? Not really. We all provide slightly different goods and services. We have our own assets that vary slightly from our rivals. If all of his customers (for example, buyers of bread) came to you instead, you'd have a problem. Perhaps you make flatbreads but he makes french breads.
But you're enterprising! You'd figure out a way to make french bread. But what about other doughy goods? Wheat, rye, buttertop, 7-grain, etc.
You cannot be everything to everybody. Soon, you'd be failing miserably in many different product categories, and your core competency might fail too! Then, your customers leave. Perhaps the market dries up. All your competitors are gone, you're making horrible products — consumers might just decide that bread isn't worth the hassle any more.
The Golden Rule will serve you well in all of your endeavors: Business, online and offline; relationships; chance interactions.
Basically, the idea is this: Put yourself in your counterpart's shoes (could be a customer, a rival, or a lover). If the feeling you get isn't a good one, PASS. If the feeling isn't bad, ask yourself a follow-up: How can both of us mutually benefit? In other words:
You should seek win-win in every interaction you have. Otherwise, it's a short-term victory at the expense of a long-term success.
To read more about how the Golden Rule applies to business, read Wired to Care. It's simply a fantastic book about companies who “get it” and how they apply it to all they do.