Is the golden rule good enough?

Is the Golden Rule Good Enough?

Is the Golden Rule Good Enough? How to become an other-focused leader. We all know the Golden Rule. But what if I could give you even more than The Bible?

Yes, you’ve heard the Golden Rule repeatedly from everyone ranging from your mom/dad to your teachers, your bosses and even the brands you love. The Golden Rule: yes, it’s been drilled into your mind through repetition.

Ok, so say it with me.

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

It’s well-intentioned enough, at least if we assume you’d like to be treated well, whatever your definition of “well” is. However, the Golden Rule – and individuals and organizations that operate under its assumptions – can sometimes exacerbate communication gaps that exist between Millennials and their managers.

You ask, Dan, “How is that?”

By making assumptions about others. The Golden Rule assumes that you are the expert – “my way is the highway” – on how others would like to be treated in the workplace.

“I am the one with the gold and because of that, I know best.”

It fosters an atmosphere of distrust and can further the divide between generations.

Research conducted by Pew states that ONLY 19% of Millennials say most people can be trusted, shockingly and significantly lower than the 31% of Gen Xers, 37% of Silents, and 40% of Boomers who agree that most people can be trusted.

This is at odds with other Millennial values of communication, transparency, and the desire for trust in organizations.

Managers have reported that Millennials are disengaged and lack loyalty…

But who would be engaged with and loyal to an organization or individual they cannot trust and feel does not have an accurate grasp of their values? Of what they desire from a job or, more importantly, life?

It’s clear that a massive chasm exists.


Here’s one reason:

Because the Golden Rule does not cut it.

In the rest of this article, I’ll tell you why the Golden Rule, while useful in some cases, it just doesn’t work hard enough for us anymore, and why you need to upgrade and shift to the Platinum Rule instead (see below), and the three ways to use it to connect with Millennials right now.

The primary reason why the Golden Rule can’t cut it anymore is:

It’s selfish.


Wait. What?

On its surface, the Golden Rule appears to have the best interest of others in mind.

“Do unto others…”

The Golden Rule is used as a tool to direct the behavior of people towards an end that we assume is positive – if you want to be treated well, you should treat others well.

But if we dig a bit deeper, we find that the Golden Rule is really selfish and not selfless.

It is about ourselves.

It’s about “us” and assumes we know what is best.

The true nature of the Golden Rule reveals itself in the second half of the phrase.

“As you’d like to be treated.”

The Golden Rule makes the mistake of assuming that you know how others would like to be treated. And with the diversity of today’s world, how can make that assumption? You assume that someone possesses the same values as you, interprets and communicates in a way that is in alignment with your own belief and value systems, and ultimately, presumes that you know how others would like to and should be treated.

It’s not about the other person at all.

It is entirely about you and how you’d like to be treated.

What rule should be guiding your action instead? What rule can you allow to inform your behavior as a leader in the workplace and bridge the gap between Millennials and their leaders?

The Platinum Rule

The Platinum Rule has one significant difference to the Golden Rule that is crucial to bridging the gap between leaders and followers, Millennials and other generations.

The Platinum Rule is:

Treat others the way they want to be treated.

To create meaningful, sustainable results, both sides, Millennials and their managers, need to bridge the communication gap.

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey argues that an effective communicator should “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” He highlights the tendency for individuals to filter experience and messages through their own worldview, saying that people understand things “autobiographically.”

The Platinum Rule does as Dr. Covey suggests. In treating others the way they want to be treated, we must seek to understand them – their beliefs and values – before being understood.

The Platinum Rule helps us bridge the gap between Millennials and their managers because it encourages communication, vulnerability, and authenticity.

Here are our 3 ways to use the Platinum Rule in your workplace.

  1. Guide by teaching skills, connection and value to millennials.

    We see it time and again throughout our work with Millennials. We know they are hungry, dedicated, and eager to learn but they lack an essential tool to thrive in the modern workplace: the ability to clearly and concisely articulate their values. Rather than viewing this as a weakness in Millennials, we can choose to see this as an opportunity. According to a report from the PWC, professional development is Millennials “first choice benefit from employers.” Through collaborating with Millennials. You can help them articulate their values to connect with others to create an atmosphere of trust while satisfying their primary desires.

  2. Grow  your game on Asking Great Questions

    If you ask good questions, you will get good answers. But if you ask great questions the world will open for you.  Seems easy enough, right? To implement the Platinum Rule, we must challenge ourselves to ask great friggin questions. You should teach how to master this process.  A great question is open-ended, nonjudgmental and supportive. It invites others into a conversation, seeks to understand the needs, motivations, and challenges of others, and empowers others to solve problems on their own. Some examples of great questions are:

    1. What are your thoughts and goals on _____?  Why?
    2. Interesting! Can you help me understand your point of view more?
    3. What are you currently experiencing or going through? How can I help serve you better?

    These questions encourage thoughtfulness, probe others to dig deeper into their own views, and demonstrate an interest in their emotional well-being.

  3. Practice Empathetic and Deep Listening

    Active listening is a skill. To listen deeply and empathetically, you must:

    1. Be present
    2. Be genuinely curious
    3. Be caring and concerned
    4. Show respect and keep quiet
    5. Strive to help the question asker

Active listening is about being deeply engaged with the speaker, seeking to help elucidate and understand their viewpoint. Rather than waiting for your turn to speak, you are present with whomever is speaking and can ask probing questions to further understand what they are telling you.

These three rules will be your game changer for culture, sales results, and relationship enhancement. It will create loyal Millennials and a kick-ass culture.  Ask us how we can help you employ the Platinum Rule to bridge the communication gap between Millennials and their managers.