3 Steps To Meaningful Engagement (The Platinum Rule)

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The Platinum Rule is key to emotional intelligence, a key component of success in work and life. By Camille Preston (Founder & CEO, AIM Leadership)

One of the first things I do in the training sessions I lead is ask participants what the Golden Rule is. Some respond, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Others respond, “The person with the most gold wins!” Two responses with a very different impact on how that individual engages with the world.

But the rule I want to teach is the Platinum Rule: Do onto others as they want done onto them. In other words, treat people how they need to be treated. Makes great sense, so why don’t people live by this more? It requires a lot more effort on the part of the “doer,” who must take the time to step back, think about who they are connecting with, who they are serving, and ask the question, what is in the best interest of this individual?

The Platinum Rule is key to emotional intelligence, a key component of success in work and life.

So why don't we live by it?

Here are a few reasons:

  • We move too fast. We don't have or take the time to stop, reflect, and consciously select the best course of action forward.
  • We are egocentric. We don’t differentiate ourselves from others. So we believe, “This is what I like, so it must be the best way for everyone.”
  • We don’t connect meaningfully. Often, we don't have deep enough relationships to know what the other person wants, thinks, and likes.
  • Because we don't know how to. We don’t know how to cultivate deeper relationships, especially amid the speed, demands, and distribution of today’s business world.

The Platinum Rule is critical to our success. And living by it is simple, once you understand how it works.

Here are three steps to improve your engagement:

  1. First, you need to cultivate the relationship. Stephen Covey said, “With people, you have to go slow to go fast.” These days, we are so focused on what needs to happen that we don’t spend the time getting to know who they are or what truly matters most to them. I wrote Authentic Encounters to provide specific actionable strategies for figuring out “how to go slow, so that you can go fast.”
  2. Second, you need to pro-actively prepare. Take time in advance to invest in the relationship, before you need something. Figure out who they are, what matters to them, what lights them up. If you are smart you will track this information for all the important people in your personal and professional. Genuine curiosity is often a quick road to lighting people up.When preparing for a conversation, consider the information that would set you up for success. Turn these into questions, and then take a moment to stand in their shoes, as literally as you can. Stand the way they stand, hold your body the way they do, and talk the way they talk. When you are fully associated, try to answer your own questions as you think they would. This is called perceptual positioning in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
  3. Third, you need to bring your full self to the table. For some this is scary, for others this is energy they do not have, and for others this is a new muscle. When you care about the person you are interacting with, they feel it. By showing genuine compassion, you activate additional resources within your brain and within theirs.

Start today with someone you know well, maybe a friend, a coworker, or your spouse.

Practice the Platinum Rule, and soon it will be second nature.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: John's Zen About the guest blogger: Camille Preston is the Founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, a coaching and training company focused on improving individual, team, and organizational effectiveness by developing leadership capabilities from the inside out. She serves as an adviser, guest speaker, and mentor for Compass Partners, a nonprofit collegiate organization that helps develop responsible entrepreneurs. Camille holds a BA from Williams College and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Virginia.