Monday, March 21, 2011

Platinum is Worth More Than Gold When Comes to Treatment of Others

You may have heard of the Golden Rule before. Many people aspire to live by it but the Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated.  Is that the right assumption?

The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule:
"Treat others the way they want to be treated."

The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from "this is what I want, so I'll give everyone the same thing" to "let me first understand what they want and then I'll give it to them." This rule presents us with a significant challenge, in order for us to follow it we must listen and inquire about the needs of others, and suppress our desire to tell them what it is that they need.

I believe the real goal of the Golden Rule is to treat others the way they would like to be treated. The Platinum Rule, distilled to its essence, equates to respect for others. After all, isn't it really about being considerate of others? Isn't it about understanding what their needs and wants are and empowering them to succeed by meeting those needs and wants? When you empower those around you, it makes for a positive and uplifting environment. Who doesn't want to be in a happy workplace?

The Platinum Rule not only applies to your employees but your customers, vendors, and partners. If you really want to deliver customer excellence and not simply deliver customer service then use the Platinum Rule. I think the best way to find out how your customers like to be treated is to ask them.

Customers may or may not like being treated in a standardized manner and they may or may not have the same preferences as the employees they are dealing with. In other words, they may want to be treated differently.

Knowing the personality preferences of others can help employees adapt their own behaviours to reflect the preferences of your customers. Reflecting the needs, wants and expectations of the customer – in a manner that creates a collaborative relationship – will achieve much greater success.

By teaching your employees to recognize, respect and reflect the customer’s preferences, by changing how you approach customer interactions, you can differentiate your company, its products and services from your competitors.

When you think about it the Platinum Rule is a value adding proposition while the Golden Rule is not. When dealing with others feeling valued can translate to respect. Respect for People is the most critical element for success in a Lean environment. So treat others the way they want to be treated.  It is worth more.


  1. Hi Tim,

    This seems reasonable, however, I don't know if making hard fast rules to such intangible scenarios is of any value.

    How do you treat customers the way the way want to be treated if they don't know what they want?

    How do you treat peers that don't know how to work with others in positive manner?

    How do you treat people whose feelings may be irrational?

  2. Tim,

    I like your point. Focus on the customer first and build the relationship from there. The Platinum Rule is a simple way people can try to remember that.