Replace the golden rule: Treat others how they want to be treated

By The Editorial Board

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

If that sounds familiar to you, it may be because it’s the biblical pretense to the golden rule.

“Treat others as you want to be treated” is a phrase we see everywhere in American culture — so much so that it is often one of the first things we teach our children when we send them off to school. But what if we told you we think there is a way to improve upon the golden rule?

It’s no secret that no two people are the same. So, why do we assume it is safe to treat others how we want to be treated? Instead, treat others how they want to be treated, also known as the platinum rule.

If we treat others according to the platinum rule rather than the golden rule, we can ensure others are being treated the way they prefer to be treated, rather than how we think they prefer to be treated.

Do not assume you know the best way to make someone feel loved and respected. Make an effort to learn how the people in your life want you to treat them, and respect their wishes. You can start simple with asking a loved one what you do now to make them feel loved; then, ask how you can be better.

However, as beneficial as the platinum rule can be, it doesn’t come to fruition without doing some work. It takes dedicated time, communication and understanding in order to work. With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can bridge the gap of expectations with your loved ones.

Identifying both your love language and the love languages of those you love is key to incorporating the platinum rule. Taking note of whether someone responds well to things like physical touch and words of affirmation can go a long way in making them feel like they’re being adequately cared for in the ways they prefer to be.

Another trait worth taking into account is whether someone considers themselves to be more of an introvert or an extrovert. If someone is introverted, they may want more time to themselves on a daily basis in order to recharge. Everyone has different capacities for social interaction and activities. Maybe if you’re more of an extrovert, you have a higher tolerance for amounts of social activity and don’t want as much time alone. Knowing these differences and how they apply to your loved ones can be important in understanding how much time they need to spend with or without interactive activities.

It doesn’t take a genius to point out that no one who is reading this article is a mind reader. That brings us to our last tip: Communication is key. You have to have hard conversations with people in your life about how you feel.

Sometimes these conversations can feel downright confrontational, almost as if you’re telling someone they can’t love you properly. Rather than pointing out the negatives in someone’s actions, you can tell them that you know they love you and that carrying out certain actions are the best way for you to feel how much they love you.

On the other hand, avoid reacting negatively if someone facilitates this kind of conversation with you. Taking offense to someone asking you to show them love in a different way is unproductive. Even if you might be bad at giving compliments or planning outings, if someone asks you to treat them a certain way, make the effort.

Establishing these expectations with everyone in your life can be overkill. However, taking care to treat those closest to you by the platinum rule can go a long way in fostering healthy relationships.