You remember the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It says, in essence, that the way you want to be treated is the standard you should use in determining how you will treat others.
It turns out, though, that the Golden Rule has an inherent flaw in it. It presumes that others are just like us, that they would be satisfied with exactly the same treatment we would enjoy.
People just aren’t that simple.
What is the Platinum Rule?
When you’ve done a great job on a work project, you might really appreciate a gift card from Starbucks as a token of appreciation for your efforts. Since that is something you’d enjoy, you might consider giving me a Starbucks card if I, too, had worked hard on a project for you. But since I don’t drink coffee and I don’t care much for pastries, maybe a Starbucks gift card isn’t right for me. In this example, doing unto others what you would have others do unto you falls short of expressing your genuine appreciation in a way that uplifts me and makes me feel special.
A different standard may be in order. I’ve heard it called The Platinum Rule (since it is worth more than gold). The Platinum Rule says we should do unto others the way they want us to do unto them. In other words, you have to treat people the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated. That requires a little more effort.
When it comes to rewarding me, for example, you’d have to find out that a handwritten note of appreciation is something I will treasure for years to come. An expression of your sincere gratitude and the thoughtfulness of a card would be worth so much more to me than any gift card. That personalization is my definition of platinum.
But every individual is different. So rewarding, recognizing or simply treating others the way they would choose does require more thought. It involves being observant, actively listening, caring enough to ask about preferences. When we over-rely on our preferences, we often miss giving others what they want, need or deserve.
Following the Platinum Rule
Think about relationships and you’ll probably be able to see this more clearly. When you have two people in a relationship, they can both feel minimized even when they are both trying to apply The Golden Rule. He loves to hear compliments and so he showers praise on her. But she feels it is insincere because she just wants to be listened to and isn’t getting that need met. And the reverse is happening simultaneously – she is trying with all her might to give her full attention and listen to him, but he’s just saying the same things over and over again in an attempt to get a much-needed compliment. If this couple knew and used The Platinum Rule, they could both be less stressed, both could get their needs met, and both would feel more satisfied in the relationship.
It all starts with setting a new standard. Try it with just one person. Make it a point to find out how they would like to be treated. Adjust and treat them differently, even if you do not understand or would not find what they’ve described to be personally appealing.
Watch what happens when you apply The Platinum Rule. You may see a rise in your own value as you apply this higher value standard.
This blog post was originally published on February 23, 2013 and was selected for the CONNECT! Community’s series on Connecting by Caring. As a leader, it’s imperative to understand why and how to show ever person that you care about them. Learn more about how you can CONNECT2Lead. And be sure to subscribe to the CONNECT2Lead Blog for weekly tips and techniques on leading with a people first approach.