Most people are aware of the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. Not a bad way to live your life, something to consider in all your dealings with people and something to think about when the temptation to be mean or rude to others is strong.
However, even better than the golden rule is the platinum rule: “Treat others as they would like to be treated”
This is really important to consider when thinking about how to treat other people. Yes, we would all like to think that treating people with respect is a good way to live, and it is, but not all people want to be treated the same way as you. Maybe you would like to be spoken to in a specific way, but they don’t want to.
The first time I heard about this rule was during a communication styles workshop where we discussed the different ways people communicate and how this affects their interactions with one another on a daily basis, and specifically within the workshop. Being aware of different communication styles can be very beneficial for resolving, predicting and avoiding conflict. I learnt I have two very strong communication styles, I am an expressive driver. So, basically, I’m bossy and loud… well, duh. But that’s something that, when considered in your dealings with me, can be extremely helpful to know.
The way people like to be treated is easily discernible by the way they treat others. For example, I am quite pedantic about emails needing to be polite. They will always start with a salutation and often begin with “I hope you are well” this is an indicator that I like to receive emails worded a similar way. On the flip side I have a colleague who always begins emails with my name and no saluation, while I consider this abrupt that is their communication style and they respond well to their own behaviour being mirrored back to them.
Mirroring can be very effective. It can also be passive aggressive, so watch yourself if you’re giving it a try.
What it boils down to is this: you may wish to be treated a certain way, and while it’s a good start to be treating others how you wish to be treated you may be, quite unknowingly, treating them in a way they do not wish to be treated. Switching the you to they makes all the difference because, like anything, it’s just not all about you.
The platinum rule – a rule to live by.