That’s right, I said it. The Golden Rule sucks. This whole idea of treat others as you want to be treated doesn’t work. Sure, it looks good on paper but if you are interested in building quality relationships with other people that are not your clones, treating them as you want to be treated is not going to get it done.
Suppose for example that you are a masochist. Oh, stop being so oversensitive, it’s just an example. Granted, it’s probably an inappropriate example, but an example nonetheless. By definition, as a masochist that means that you derive pleasure from being humiliated or mistreated by others. So, if you were to live by the Golden Rule doesn’t that mean that you should go about your life humiliating and mistreating everyone you come in contact with? After all, that would technically be treating them as you want to be treated, isn’t it? In the rare case that all of your friends are also masochists, it might work, but I’m guessing as a general rule this approach would be a bad idea.
So, that’s a pretty extreme example. I get that. But it really doesn’t matter who you are. You could bleed gummy bears and rainbows and that approach is not going to work with everyone you come in contact with. Walk into a cut throat negotiation treating everyone with hugs and giggles and let me know how it goes. Spoiler alert…you don’t win.
The problem that I have with the Golden Rule is that it assumes that other people want to be treated the same as you. Most don’t. They are individuals. They have their own likes and dislikes. They have their own ideas of how they should be treated and it’s actually a bit egotistical to think that it is identical to yours.
The Golden Rule gives no thought to the needs of the other person in the equation. What it really says is that you don’t care enough to figure out who they really are and what they really like.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we as a society live like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. I am suggesting that there is a better way.
The Platinum Rule
That better way is the Platinum Rule. Developed by Milton Bennett, an acclaimed cross-cultural researcher, it states: treat others as they want to be treated. Very similar rule. Only one minor change. But that one minor change makes all of the difference.
Think about it.
What would it do to your relationships if you were to stop treating the other person the way that you like to be treated and instead were to treat them how they want to be treated? If you were to stop seeing everyone through the same lens but instead made a sincere effort to get to know each person you come in contact with for who they are as an individual and act accordingly?
Of course living by the Platinum Rule is more difficult. It requires that you try and get to know the people around you. It requires that you get better at reading personalities. It requires that you actually listen to what other people have to say. It requires that you care for and respect other people enough to really get to know them.
But is that so bad? Isn’t that what this society really needs right about now? Wouldn’t there be less fighting in the world if people weren’t always so hell bent on projecting their own beliefs onto others? That’s right, I’m looking at you religion and politics.
That last sentence is going to get me in trouble, isn’t it?
Look, I know it’s not always easy. Perhaps I’m just being a bit naive. But isn’t it at least worth a try? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Just remember, how I like to be treated. Showered with compliments and warm fuzzy feelings.