I think most of us have heard of The Golden Rule, where we “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This is good in theory and a good starting place, but it falls short in the long run. The Golden Rule is really only successful if that person wants to be treated the way you want to be treated. It only works if they have the exact same values and beliefs, likes and dislikes, and actions and behaviors you have. Instead, might I suggest something that was introduced to me in my post-secondary education where we talked about working with others: The Platinum Rule.
The Platinum Rule is simple and much more effective. It states, “Treat other people the way they want to be treated.” Ah! So simple. It isn’t about you and what you like. It is about the other person and what they like. This will always be successful in practice. When you take the time to learn about the other person and pay attention to who they are, you can more effectively relate to them in situations where the Golden Rule has been used in the past.
The Platinum Rule is a more thoughtful approach to dealing with others. The other person in your situation may have a different background than you, a different upbringing, a different set of standards, and therefore a very different outlook on life and what it means to feel respected by another. By taking the time to find out about this other person and what they prefer, when you treat them the way they want to be treated, you are showing them respect and I guarantee that your interactions with this person will be smooth. I guess I shouldn’t guarantee anything, but I am confident that if you have taken the time to learn about this other person and taken them into consideration in your interactions, you will be successful.
We all have unique experiences, so it is simply not appropriate to treat everyone like yourself. As I mentioned, we all have different backgrounds, and this includes different struggles, privileges, short comings, and blind spots. On your end, or theirs. This can change how people give feedback, express thanks, or even ask questions. You may not understand why or how someone prefers to do something if it is different than you. It would be great if you did, but it isn’t required to employ the Platinum Rule. All you need to know is that they are different than you and what their specific preferences are.
By using The Platinum Rule, you will be fostering an environment of inclusion and belonging for everyone no matter how similar or dissimilar their preferences are to yours. You might even find that the more flexible and willing you are to meet people where they are, will cause people to respond in kind and they will start from a place of openness and inclusivity as well.