Golden v. Platinum Rule

Few people enter adulthood without learning the “Golden Rule” – treat others the way you want to be treated. This advice provides a solid foundation for interacting in basic ways, asking us to refrain from behaviors that are universally unpleasant or harmful. Be kind. Don’t hit. Share nicely. Don’t cheat. Be polite. In its simplicity, it’s a useful blueprint for life.

Unfortunately, the complexity of human nature outsmarts the Golden Rule, as people are wired differently. I love my sister Becca more than almost any other human. She lives in New York and I live in Nashville, and I miss her. Sometimes I wish we spoke and texted ten times a day, because I am an extrovert (a “high B” in Predictive Index terms), and this is how I want to be treated. The problem is that ten phone calls or texts a day is Becca’s worst nightmare. She is an introvert (“low B”) and interacts quietly and infrequently. She takes time to think about what she’s going to say before she speaks. Treating Becca the way I want to be treated is therefore a terrible idea. Instead, I aspire to treat her as she needs to be treated. Treating others as they need to be treated is the Platinum Rule, a profound update to the Golden Rule.

Becca and I are sisters, so we share a lifetime of intuitively understanding that we’re different. Long before I knew of the Platinum Rule or the Predictive Index, I stopped letting my feelings be hurt by phone calls unreturned or silent car rides. Becca is wired differently from me, and respecting her need for quiet and privacy is the best way I know to communicate my love for her – because DAMN, is it hard for me!

Becca is the world’s best, compassionate listener (she’d say it’s because she’s relieved not to have to do the talking). Her advice is always carefully considered, and she shares it gently and at just the right time. This past summer, she quietly planned me a beautiful birthday party – and then stood back and let me be the social butterfly my extroverted self loves to be. Sometimes, she’ll even pick up the phone when I call, and those chats are the Platinum Rule in action. Becca also understands intuitively that our wiring is different and, because she loves me, indulges my need to chat.

I have nothing against the Golden Rule. It is the ABCs, the building blocks, the foundation of how to share a planet with other beings. But when it comes to more complex interaction, I turn to the Platinum Rule. Its nuance invites us to consider others’ viewpoints and step outside our comfort zones. If I had let the Golden Rule govern my treatment of Becca, we wouldn’t be on speaking terms. Our shared understanding of the Platinum Rule has allowed us to be close in ways that work for us both. We are indeed on speaking terms – with one of us doing more speaking than the other. The Platinum Rule lets us show each other our best love – what a great rule to follow!

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