Confusing the Small Details with the Deal Breakers

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 21:18

Golden Rule: Treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

Platinum Rule: Treat others the way THEY want to be treated.

At face value, these two codes of conduct appear to be quite similar. Both emphasize the importance of how we treat others. The biggest difference is the filter by which we determine how we interact with another person.

If we subscribe to the golden rule, we project our values onto the other person. If I value punctuality, I will make sure to show up to all commitments on time and prepared. If I value efficiency, I will make it a point to not waste someone else's time and get the job done in the least amount of time possible.

Let's say that I have a friend/colleague/family member/whoever that has a completely different set of values. They may value spontaneity and love a little bit of chaos showing up to keep things exciting. They may value relationships and want to really spend quality time with everyone they are interacting with.

Here's where the golden rule can get tricky. If I show up to a scheduled event on time and prepared, I could easily assume this fictitious person B sees that and is so grateful for my thoughtfulness. In reality, person B may not notice or even care because punctuality may be so low on their list of values that it's meaningless. Worse, in an effort to be efficient, I may try to cut through the chit chat and come across as cold or uncaring. This can be particularly upsetting to person B because it would take away their opportunity to connect at a personal level, which is something they value and may want to demonstrate as a matter of respect.

Mismatching Scales

The problem with the golden rule is that it's easy to confuse the small details with the deal breakers. Take a group of people and put them through a personality test like Myers Briggs or Strength Finder 2.0 and you'll start to see a variety of skills, behaviors, and values emerge.

This is where the platinum rule trumps the golden rule. In taking the time to discover what makes us tick and then sharing that information with others, we can begin to see differences in our value scales. More importantly, we can use this information to start developing stronger relationships with the people we interact with because we now have the opportunity to treat them in a way that they will be notice and appreciate.

If person B hates calendaring but knows it matters a lot to me, they will win me over if they make a concerted effort to show up on time. Likewise if I know person B really wants to take the time to talk about something that's important in their personal life, it will go a long way if I take that time to really listen before moving onto the next agenda bullet point.

Applying the Platinum Rule

The best way to not confuse the small details with the deal breakers is simply to get educated. Take a personality assessment if you haven't already done so (I recommend Strength Finder 2.0). Schedule some time to discuss the results with individuals you interact with on a consistent basis. Share what your top values are and, most importantly, ask them what they value most. Make it a point to review and remind yourself of their values from time to time and start applying this knowledge in your every day interactions. You'd be amazed at how quickly they will notice and pick up on it.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: Chief Product Officer of DRUD Tech. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.