The Golden Rule vs The Platinum Rule: Which is more productive?

You may be familiar with the old adage, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. It basically advises that we treat others how we would like to be treated ourselves. This ‘Golden Rule’ mantra has stood the test of time and can help us build stronger, more positive relationships.

Studies suggest that it’s natural that we seek strong, healthy relationships, so it would make sense that we apply this ‘Golden Rule’ in the workplace. Positive relationships with our colleagues can make us more productive, more committed, and can facilitate better teamwork. We humans are inherently social animals, and historically, relationships with others were partly conducive to our survival – but while they’re not as fundamentally essential today, we still rely on social relationships to keep us happy and healthy. This is equally as relevant in the workplace as we spend an average of 90,360 hours of our lives at work.

However, there is another rule that can also be applied to workplace relationships; a rule that was formulated by PRINT’s founder and architect, Dr Paul Hertz. Hertz’ ‘Platinum Rule’ reverses the Golden Rule and instead asserts that we should treat others how they may wish to be treated. At first glance, this may seem like a rather selfish rendition of the Golden Rule – but it might actually prove more conducive to building and strengthening positive relationships within the workplace.

Consider the implications of both rules. The Golden Rule suggests that everyone else around us would automatically want to be treated in exactly the same way as we treat ourselves. It ignores the feelings of others, instead focusing solely on the specific individual. And since we all have our own unique motivations, Triggers, and ways of behaving, its exclusivity could become a problem.

Contrarily, the Platinum Rule foregrounds the feelings and desires of others. It advises that, when interacting with our peers, we make ourselves aware of how they might want to be treated and mould our behaviour to satisfy them. It focusses on the many instead of the one. It might appear that the Platinum Rule would have us bending over backwards for anyone we socialised with – but this does not have to be the case. If everyone practiced the Platinum Rule – and placed others’ feelings before their own – our interactions would likely be much more fluid, much more positive, and much more productive.

We all have Unconscious Motivators® which influence the way we behave and respond to certain situations and people. Some things satisfy us, others Trigger us. When we’re Triggered, we’re sent into unproductive Shadow behaviour, which makes us less motivated to work and less receptive to social interaction. On the opposite side of the coin is Best Self behaviour, during which we’re productive, positive and much better at teamwork!

By understanding how other people might react to certain actions and situations, we can tailor our behaviour to stimulate our own Best Selves and those of our colleagues to produce more efficient teamwork. And in doing so, we can foster more positive and productive relationships and workplaces. We all want happy relationships – and understanding each other is the key.


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