Please stop treating me as you would like to be treated!


“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” We’ve all heard this as children but also as a guideline for building relationships in world of work. Sounds like good advice, right? Wrong.

The golden rule is probably the most disastrous piece of advice you can give someone when building relationships. The worst part is that it is seen as gospel by most..

The golden rule sounds like good advice but it negates diversity. Yes, everyone values respect but respect is tied to different behaviours by different people, especially when working with different cultural and sub cultural groups. I have actually experienced this first hand during my professional life in India. Being very egalitarian and informal, my definition of respect goes something like: “If something is not working for you or if you have an opinion about what we are talking about, whoever you are, speak up.” Since this is what respect looked like for me, I happily applied that in the traditional Indian industrial house in which I was working a few years ago. As you can imagine, this behaviour didn’t really fly very well in the high power distance, implicit and group oriented work culture I was working in. I remember being told that I was rude and disrespectful, even though that was never my intention and I was doing everything right…according to me. This situation really frustrated me as I could not understand what was going wrong in my relationship with my boss, peers and even direct reports. I have since learned to appreciate different ways of living respect and have, hopefully, adapted my behaviour to respect diverse people

The golden rule is full of good intentions but let’s not forget that hell is paved with good intentions too. I used respect for the sake of the example but this can be reproduced for almost all values. Professionalism, family, responsibility, accountability, honesty…the list is endless.

If you genuinely want to build effective relationships, you should treat people like THEY would like to be treated, not the way you’d like to be treated. The challenge of what some people call the platinum rule is that it requires people to actually sit down and talk with each other about values and behaviours, conversation that is never easy to have. The thing is that it is so much easier to avoid this uncomfortable discussion by minimising differences and saying that respect – add any other value – means the same thing for everyone. To have this conversation, we need to actually care about the other enough to respect them in a way that might not be natural to us…that’s leadership.

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10 Responses to Please stop treating me as you would like to be treated!

  1. cranstonholden says:

    Platinum Rule. Love it. Good job.

  2. alaskachick says:

    WHAT an amazing concept! WOW. I have NEVER thought about it like this, Guillaume.
    All I can say is thank you (and WOW). Now I feel as if I should have known this, known better… it makes perfect sense.

  3. Randall says:

    Food for thought. I enjoyed seeing you interpret your ongoing reality in India. Randall

  4. Vince Arecchi says:

    Glad to see someone actually put this down in writing. I have been using the Platinum Rule for years with client groups and found that it really resinates with teams trying to build better relationships with each other to enhance team effectiveness. It is also an excellent tool for practitioners of Type where we explore different preferences and embrace the differences for enhanced performance.

    • Same here! Good piece, Guillaume, thanks. I confirm that the “Platinum Rule” is very well accepted by groups and leaders – in Europe as well as in India.
      I was very impressed the first time I heard about it from my friend and colleague Maria Jicheva. All these shared concepts are so precious in our cross-cultural and diversity community!
      One part I also like very much in your post, Guillaume is the part on the intention. More and more I point out how much our intentions “are in danger” in an cross-cultural environment if we don’t do what you say: “it down and talk with each other about values and behaviours”.

  5. Chere Isabelle,

    Thank you for sharing your experience and joining the discussion. I am glad to know you enjoyed this post and that we agree on the importance of ‘having THE conversation’.

    A bientot?

  6. Kavita Joshi says:

    I like this new view of looking at it really …as I do think we need to change the old things in many perspective to give it the right meaning 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  7. Manie Bosman says:

    This is the Platinum Rule which Tony Alessandra proposed a decade or two ago: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.” Have a look at his website here –
    – Manie

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