Is the Golden Rule Enough?

We’re all familiar with the Golden Rule, right? It’s the idea to treat others as you want to be treated. Reference to this noble intent can be found across religions and cultures for hundreds of centuries.

You want people to be nice to you? Then, you should be nice to other people and the idea is that it comes back to you. What goes around, comes around.

It is a kind way to go about living in this fast-paced world that can be so stressful. Assuming you want to be treated kindly (you do, right??), following the rule can create pleasant situations, conversations and opportunities. With intention, the rule can be followed in personal relationships, work relationships and with complete strangers. It might be little, but important, things like saying “Thank you” or “Good morning.” Or maybe it is a small act like buying your spouse his favorite dessert while grocery shopping or bringing your co-worker some coffee. With strangers it could be holding the door for someone or stopping to let another car get in front of you in traffic.

There’s another “rule” that people are talking about and that’s The Platinum Rule. It takes the same concept one step further with the idea of treating others as they want to be treated. For example, say your spouse prefers to stay quiet in the morning until they’ve had their coffee. Whereas, you, on the other hand, wake up ready to dive into conversation about the day ahead. If you go by the Golden Rule in this situation, you may find yourself with a cranky spouse in the morning. But, if you go by the Platinum Rule you will show respect for your spouse’s preferences and they’ll probably like you more.

Obviously this only works when you know the person well enough to know what their preferences are but for marriage and work relationships this approach can win you major points. Start by taking time to think of the other person and how you know them to be. Pay attention to their preferences, choices and reactions to others. Try to gather from your observations what you think works best for them and then ask to be sure.

“Hey, co-worker, I’m going to get a cup of coffee. Can I bring you one? I seem to recall you like cream and sugar, is that right?”


“Honey, we need to talk about our family budget but it’s getting late and I know you have more energy in the morning. Can we pick a time that works for you?”

Of course, you can’t always give, give, give without return. There has to be a balance in any relationship. That is another thing to think on. What feels like a good balance to you and do you maybe have to ask for it from the other person? The key here is about giving first as a way to make and keep a relationship one you want to be in. Don’t approach this as buttering them up so you can get something in return. That takes the giving part of the whole thing away and makes it selfish and manipulative.

No, this is about giving because you want to. Making an effort to understand and appreciate others. Leading by example and being the best person you can be.

Happy Holidays and May there be Peace on Earth!