The Golden Rule says, “Do for others as you would have done for yourself.” This sentiment is contained in various forms in the writings of the major world religions. It has been the foundation for serving others in a helpful and meaningful way. BUT what if the things you want done for yourself are not what I want done for myself?
The Platinum Rule says in contrast, “Do for others as they would have done for them.” In this way we show respect for the diversity of values and norms of others we encounter at work and in everyday life. When we show this respect, the way is open for us to be respected in turn.
In a pluralistic and international world of business, knowing, understanding, and respecting the cultures and traditions of the persons with whom we are working, keeps the door open for effective communication and collaboration. When we give respect and consideration, we are in a better position to be respected in turn and to receive what we need.
When I was a communication professor, my class was visited by potential young leaders from Japan whose company had brought them to the United States to improve their English proficiency. When asked what they thought of American business practices, one of the group immediately said, “I don’t like the way you communicate with each other in meetings. You raise your voices, disagree, criticize, and interrupt each other. In Japan we are more respectful. In Japanese the verb comes at the end of the sentence so we have to listen to the entire message before we can understand and respond to the other’s ideas.” This is one example of how, by understanding another culture’s style of communication, we are able to listen, learn, and respond appropriately.
The Platinum Rule applies in everyday leadership too. Leaders promote the vision and strategy of what needs to be done to develop business and manage projects. The support of the team can be gained by communicating in the spirit of the Platinum Rule. When the leader asks, “What can I do to help you accomplish your task,” or “What do you need to complete this project,” teams can move forward with success. And their success becomes the leader’s success!
- Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. (Judaism)
- Doing good to others is not a duty—it is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness. Avesta (Zoroastrianism)
- A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. Gautama Siddhartha (Buddhism)
- Be known for pleasing others, especially if you govern them. Ruling others has one advantage: you can do more good than anyone else. Lao Tzu (Confucianism)
- Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Tecumseh (Native American)
- Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus Christ (Christianity)
© Dr. Ethan Raath 2013
Dr. Ethan Raath
Executive Leadership Consultant
Highwire Leadership LLC