The Platinum Rule

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.”

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