It may surprise you that many people have no idea what the Golden Rule is. To refresh your memory, the Golden Rule states, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” While it is upheld as a gold standard, it has a flaw that often goes unnoticed. That flaw is the lack of empathy in understanding another person’s perspective. This is also called the Law and the Prophets in Mathew 7:12. Treating others as you wish to be treated can be a very good thing – but it can also be detrimental without intending to be. When you have empathy with the other person, you are going beyond the Golden Rule.
The Platinum Rule
Dr. Tony Alessandra coined another rule, one which includes the feelings of others. The Platinum Rule states: Treat others the way they want to be treated. That changes things. You may not want to be treated the same way I want, but if I take the time to find out what you want, I have moved past my ego to accommodate your feelings. My decision to put you first helps nurture our relationship.
The Platinum Rule requires some give and take. It requires that you take a backseat to your way of doing things, your wants and ideas, and give the other person an opportunity to inform you of what they want or need. By choosing to find out how other people want to be treated, you give them the opportunity to share with you those things that will make the environment, whether work, social, or otherwise, more hospitable for you both.
Empathy Creates Space
Listening to others and being open to their feedback opens a space for dialogue and understanding. Allowing others to share their perspective with you not only helps you understand them better, but it can also enrich your life if you allow it to.
Practicing the Platinum Rule also puts you in a position to communicate how you want to be treated. As you find the courage to voice your needs, others will also feel empowered to voice theirs. This is not always an easy process. You may find that jokes or off-hand remarks you made or shared with others were offensive or hurtful. Certainly, you have been on that end of the stick at some time in your life. We all have.
You may need to apologize sometimes, but that’s okay. We are all in growth mode all the time because we are always learning something new.
Today, your challenge is to go beyond just being nice to other people and treating them the way you would like to be treated. Instead, start cultivating empathy and go the extra mile to determine how others want to be treated. Your efforts will be rewarded. Until you can put your feet in another person’s shoes, it will be extremely difficult to truly understand Empathy.
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