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The Platinum Rule

Mar 22, 2018Recovery

Imagine that you show up to lunch with my Mom. You’re wearing a new shirt & my Mom notices. “New shirt?” she’ll ask.

And you’ll smile, about to thank her for noticing, but she’ll continue. “That’s really not a good cut for you. I wouldn’t buy more of those in the future.”

You might turn to me, expecting me to chime in & I’ll start asking questions: Do you like it? Do you have the option to return it? Does it happen to belong to a recently deceased relative & you’re not wearing it because it’s flattering but because there’s emotional significance attached to it?

Here’s what makes this interesting: neither approach is right or wrong.

My Mom thinks she’s helping you. She’s following the Golden Rule & treating you as she’d want to be treated. If she showed up in a shirt that wasn’t the right cut for her, she’d want you to tell her, even if she didn’t ask for your opinion.

I also think I’m helping you. I’m following the Golden Rule & treating you as I’d want to be treated. If I showed up in a shirt that wasn’t the right cut for me, I wouldn’t want you to presume I want your opinion, especially without getting the context first.

There are a thousand whys behind our different approaches & preferences. Fortunately for you, Instagram’s 2200 character limit prevents me from getting into them.

But here’s one of the True-est things I’ve learned in recent years: the planet has room for both of us.

Do I know that 95% of people would probably prefer my Mom’s approach? Of course.

But, on a planet of 7 billion people, the remaining 5% is still 350 million people.

Just because 95% of the planet would prefer me to be more direct, doesn’t mean I “should” be more direct. Just because there are 350 million people who would prefer my mom to be gentler, doesn’t mean she “should” be gentler.

And, beautifully, we have options. We’re allowed to change our approach person to person, being direct with those who prefer directness & gentle with those who prefer gentleness. We can stop following the Golden Rule & start following the Platinum Rule: instead of treating others as we wish to be treated, we can treat others as they wish to be treated.