The Platinum Rule

Everyone knows the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Pretty simple, and pretty good.

And I’d like to humbly submit the upgrade, the Platinum Rule, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

What do I mean?

We all know that everyone’s different — one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, to quote another folk staple. So why do we assume that someone else would want to be treated the way we wish to be treated? Yes, everyone wants courtesy, respect, love, support and all those other wonderful, non-specific words (nominalizations, for you NLPers). But one person may equate support to being left alone in her grief, while another may equate it with constant companionship.

The Golden Rule can even create problems. Here’s one example: my first husband liked to get his information auditorily, because had a phenomenal auditory memory; he couldn’t see very well, though, and had a lousy visual memory. I, on the other hand, with a great visual memory and a terrible auditory one, wanted to see my information. But of course, we didn’t understand this, and assumed each other’s memory was just like the ours.

So, using the Golden Rule, if I needed to remind him of something, like what to get at the grocery store, I’d leave a note on the back of the front door, where he’d be sure to see it on the way out in the morning, and could take it with him to use at the store in the evening. Of course, half the time, he never saw the note! If he needed me to call someone to renew the auto insurance, he’d tell me before he left for work — and it would slip my mind.

And in the evening, he wouldn’t have gotten what we needed at the grocery, and I wouldn’t have called the insurance agent! Multiply this by a hundred times, and you get the picture. I felt ignored, and he felt like he wasn’t being heard. It was a constant source of friction in our marriage.

Then I learned about representational systems, which are all about how you take in and store information. Some people, like me, are very visual, others primarily auditory, and still others primarily kinesthetic, so they learn by doing. I explained this to my husband, and we began to live by the Platinum Rule — I’d tell him what I needed, and he’d leave me notes. Much better, even though it felt a little weird to both of us!

So, how do you put the Platinum Rule into action? Any time something isn’t gong well in a relationship, ask yourself, do I know what the other person wants, and how they want it? If the answer is ‘no’, or even ‘maybe’, ask the other person! You’ll be glad you did.

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (, who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.