Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Great intent and often positive results, but what happens if the other person doesn't like to be treated the way you like to be treated? Well, then it loses a bit of it's golden glamour.
Instead, let's consider the Platinum Rule*: "Treat others the way they want to be treated". Everything shifts. Instead of assuming others want the same things we want (which is our natural inclination), let's first seek to understand what they want and then respond accordingly.
This is not an easy shift to make. It's what I live and breathe in my work - helping individuals gain insight into others' preferred communication and working styles and helping them to adjust their approach accordingly. So, naturally, you would think that I consistently take this same approach in all of my relationships. If only. I fight the same, strong natural inclination to treat others the way I like to be treated.
Here's a prime example. A few years ago, my husband and I were leading a workshop for married couples, using DISC. DISC is a simple, but powerful behavioral profiling tool that helps individuals learn how to identify and adapt to different communication styles. As we taught the workshop, it occurred to me that I had been following the Golden Rule for years in my marriage. My husband is a "D" and I am an "S", which are opposite styles in the DISC model. True to my style, I thoroughly sugar-coated any negative feedback when communicating with him. It finally hit me that this approach did not fit his style...it fit mine. After the workshop, I asked him about it. Sure enough, he confirmed that it would help if I learned to remove the sugar-coating and get right to the point, no matter how harsh. If only I had realized this years earlier?! And I, like any good wife, took the opportunity to remind him that a nice dose of sugar-coating goes a long way when communicating with me.
Applying the Platinum Rule does not come naturally - it takes intentionality and discipline. Furthermore, we can only live by the Platinum Rule if we know how to identify others' wants and preferences. Assessments like DISC and StrengthsFinder can be invaluable tools for this and are two of my favorite workshops to deliver to teams because of the profound and almost immediate impact.
While DISC and StrengthsFinder are extremely helpful, you can still successfully follow the Platinum Rule without them. When in doubt, go back to the basics - just ask...ask your colleague/boss/friend/spouse what's working and what isn't in the way you're approaching them. It's simple, but be prepared to follow through or 'the ask' will be worthless.
Now, go forth and "treat others the way they want to be treated."
*Source: Dr. Tony Alessandra
Abbey uses over a decade of talent management experience to help organizations drive business results through enhanced employee engagement. She is passionate about empowering individuals and teams to be their best. She's also a mom to two sweet girls, a wife to one good man, and a fan of running and hosting dinner parties.
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