The Platinum Rule is more valuable than the Golden Rule. Here’s why.

Adam Stamm

platinum rule vs the golden rule

Use the Platinum Rule, not the Golden Rule

If you are like me, you may have grown up with the instructions to follow the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule states we should “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

There is nothing inherently wrong with these instructions, but the rule doesn’t work that well for relationships.

Historically, the Golden Rule was helpful when considering specific, negative actions, such as stealing, adultering, or similar actions that could lead a group into dysfunction or chaos. However, where the Golden Rule succeeds in these areas, it fails in more nuanced situations like navigating social relationships in the office, meeting new people, or managing a team. 

For example, if you prefer to share whatever is on your mind and don’t mind being an open book to whomever you interact with, think about a time you may have struggled to connect with someone new because they were more reserved than you are. 

A pause in the conversation could feel like you did something wrong when you were just trying to treat them as you would want to be treated.

Treat others as they wish to be treated

When we follow the Golden Rule in these situations, social interactions are more likely to result in a missed connection, communication, or dysfunction. 

Instead of the Golden Rule, we need to learn a new rule called The Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule states:

“Treat others as they wish to be treated.” 

The change from the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule is very subtle, but it has significant implications for anyone wanting to learn how to communicate, lead, sell, or manage more effectively.

In this article, I’ll review how you can leverage the Platinum Rule through a model called DISC and share some examples of why the Platinum Rule works compared to the Golden Rule.

The Platinum Rule and the DISC Model

The Platinum Rule was popularized by Tony Alessandra and his book titled The Platinum Rule.

You can use a personality model called DISC to understand how the Platinum Rule works. If you are unfamiliar with DISC, you should take our free DISC Assessment to learn your DISC Style. 

The free report will provide you with simple insights about your style. You can purchase the full report at any time if you wish to go further with the model.

How DISC Helps You Follow The Platinum Rule

I will share some situations with very simple illustrations to help you understand how The Platinum Rule works and how you can follow it. 

Meet Jamal, Ana, Li, and Jeremy.

These four fictional characters represent the four DISC Styles. Each person’s color in these illustrations represents a specific DISC Style.

platinum rule and the d personality style

Jamal is represented by the color Red. He has the D Personality Type or D-Style. Jamal enjoys solving challenges and acting decisively.

platinum rule and the i personality style

Ana is represented by the color Yellow. She has the I Personality Type or I-Style. Ana is very friendly. She loves to engage in conversation and form new friendships.

Li is represented by the color Green. She has the S Personality Type or S-Style. Li thrives on teams. She seeks stable environments and often acts as a peacemaker when conflict arises.

Finally, Jeremy is represented by the color Blue. He has the C Personality Type or C-Style. Jeremy loves having rules to follow. He is very analytical and prefers not to take risks. He makes careful and calculated decisions.

You can use DISC to learn how to adapt your interactions with others. DISC allows you to engage in the primary lesson from the Platinum Rule: treating others how they want to be treated.

What DISC Is and Isn’t

It’s important to clarify that DISC Theory, developed in the 1920s, wasn’t designed to stick you in a box. It’s a tool to help identify your primary and most used behavioral styles and the styles of those around you.

The model is best understood from the perspective of a color wheel. Like the four fictional characters I introduced above, you also have a primary color that others know you by (even if they don’t know the model!). You will learn your primary color and DISC Style by taking a DISC assessment.

DISC Colorwheel and the platinum rule

The DISC model is divided into 12 unique personality types. While each person has a primary color that quickly identifies them, they are a blend of all the colors on the map. 

Using examples of our four fictional characters, I will explain how the Platinum Rule works and why it should be used over the Golden Rule in any social setting.

See How the Platinum Rule Works When The Golden Rule Doesn’t

The Platinum Rule directs us to treat others the way they want to be treated, but often, this advice is ignored, and the Golden Rule is employed.

Below are two examples that show how the Golden Rule falls short: the relationship between Manager and Direct Report and Customer Service situations. 

Organizations collectively spend billions of dollars each year on these trainings with varying degrees of success. Let’s be clear, the Platinum Rule won’t solve every problem in these two areas, but it can be a common thread that will weave together a multitude of topics.

Manager and Direct Report Relationships

Using our fictional characters as examples, let’s imagine that Jamal is Ana’s Manager.

platinum rule and manager / direct report relationship

When Jamal and Ana communicate, their colors and DISC Style might get in the way of understanding each other. 

Below is a fictional dialogue that shows how Jamal and Ana’s personality styles could play out in an office environment:

Ana: Hey Jamal, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Jamal: Hi Ana, it was good. I want to talk to you about next quarter’s marketing project and the materials you sent me last week. I like what you put together, but I have a few changes. Can I email them to you, or would you like to review them together this morning?

Ana: umm, sure. I guess we can review them now.

Jamal, knowingly or unknowingly, spoke with Ana in a way he prefers to communicate. As a person with the D-Personality / Red Style, Jamal:

  • Communicated/spoke directly.
  • Focused on accomplishing tasks.

The interaction between Jamal and Ana was completely harmless and happens often in many different office environments. In relationships that have a foundation of trust, this interaction will likely remain harmless. 

However, if there is any mistrust between Ana and Jamal, this interaction could breed distrust especially from Ana’s perspective. 

Ana, communicates a little differently. As a person with the I-Personality / Yellow Style, Ana prefers to:

  • Keep conversations light.
  • Socialize before jumping into a task.
  • Stay open to new ideas and information.

If Ana doesn’t recognize that Jamal is simply interacting with her from his personality style, she could mis-interpret this dialogue that she did something wrong. She may rudiment on why Jamal didn’t open up about his weekend or why he wanted to jump straight to something that was submitted the week before.

For his part, Jamal should recognize that his direct reports will respect him more if he is able to build a stronger relationship with them. Rather than interacting with his direct reports in a way that he prefers, he should take time to learn his direct reports style and mirror their communication style.

Customer Support and Service Relationships

For this next scenario, we will look at an interaction between Li and Jeremy.

Li is a customer of Jeremy’s company. She subscribes and pays for communication software. 

Jeremy works with Li to provide technical support if any issues arise. They don’t interact with each other often, and there was a recent technical issue that arose that caused a major disruption for Li.

Below is a fictitious dialogue between them:

Li: Hi Jeremy, as you know, the outage caused my team a lot of headaches last week. I want understand what happened so this might be prevented in the future.

Jeremy: Hi Li, we worked quickly and resolved the issues last week. Our contract states we are not liable for any issues with the technology.

Jeremy’s response wasn’t wrong. He used the Golden Rule and communicated based on how he likely would prefer to communicate and his personality style might have gotten in the way of providing better customer service.

As a person with the C-Personality / Blue Style, Jeremy prefers to:

  • Follow the rules and focus on the task at hand.
  • Seeks to be accurate and precise. 
  • Focuses on facts and details.

Jeremy recounted how he saw the events. Issues will occur and should be expected with technology. The contract states that.

On the other hand, Li was seeking to understand why the disruption happened in the first place. She was seeking ways to prevent instability because she has an S Personality Type / Great Style. Li prefers:

  • Stability.
  • Focusing on building bridges and working on a team.

If Jeremy paid attention to Li’s personality needs, he could have adapted his response to better meet those needs and provided a better customer experience.

How to Practice Using the Platinum Rule

Practicing the Platinum Rule is fairly simple. To start using the Platinum Rule, start by listening more than speaking. Next, leverage personality insights from DISC assessments to identify the person’s style so you can adapt how you communicate and interact with them.

I used simple, stick figure images to represent each style in this article because DISC is simple without being simplistic. Humans are very complex; sometimes though, our needs are very basic.

 DISC can help guide you to identifying the needs of whomever you are speaking with.

It’s important to approach the Platinum Rule as a skill-based journey. You might succeed in some interactions and fail in others just like any other new skill.

To start practicing using the Golden Rule, take a free DISC profile to learn more about yourself and your behavioral style.

Start your Free DISC Assessment

Get a free DISC Profile and learn how to apply the Platinum Rule.