The Platinum Rule

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Many people are aware of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It’s a fun sentence (you get to say “do unto” twice!) and it seems like great advice on how to treat other people. Except it’s not actually good advice. Consider the following:

I love milkshakes. If I’ve done something to help you out, a fantastic way for you to reward me would be to take me out for a milkshake (I’m not saying you have to do anything, but if you wanted to, a milkshake would be a great way thing to do).

Now let’s assume you have done something to help me out. If I follow the Golden Rule, then I would take you out for a milkshake. But what if you don’t like milkshakes? What if you’re lactose intolerant and a milkshake will only make you feel sick. Is that a great reward?

That’s the problem with the Golden Rule: it assumes that other people want to be treated the way you want to be treated. There’s a chance they don’t.

That’s why the Platinum Rule is a better way to show respect for someone: treat people the way they want to be treated. Or to make it more fun to say “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

the platinum rule

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