Stop Using the Golden Rule

the golden ruler
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If there is one thing the majority of humans seem to agree on, it’s the Golden Rule. According to the New World Encyclopedia, it’s the one thing virtually all religions and cultures on the planet have in common. It would seem like we found the one philosophy and moral principle that unites the masses, however, the masses are wrong!

Let’s journey into what exactly the Golden Rule is, how it can be harmful, and what’s a more caring alternative.

The What

The Golden Rule is a general moral principle that states we must “treat others the way we’d like to be treated” or has it is more commonly known “do onto others as you would do unto you.” This principle is considered to be related to innate aspects of human nature because of how widely accepted it is. 

The way one lives out this principle is simple. It’s approaching everyone in the manner we’d like to be approached. It’s respecting and showing compassion to others. It’s doing all the things we like others to do to us.

Don’t Be Selfish

Practicing the Golden Rule sounds great in theory yet it can be problematic in a number of ways. The most important: it’s selfish. What the Golden Rule does is assume everyone is like us and thus wants to be treated the same way we do.  It leaves out the fact that what is consider friendly treatment in some countries can be considered harassment in others or that a person with trauma may interpret certain actions as a threat that others invite.

The Golden Rule doesn’t account for our differences and values the “me and my perspective” point of view which leads to numerous issues. The most blaring problem is that we can hurt people and not even know it. Despite our intentions, the Golden Rule makes us the righteous example of how to treat others which completely lacks consideration for how the people we interact with want to be treated. That lack of consideration for others is the definition of selfish.  But, what can we do?

the platinum rule

The Upgraded Solution

A better way to show others the highest quality of care we must upgrade our Golden Rule practices to those of the Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule is a general moral principle that states “treat others how they want to be treated.” When we do that we foster understanding, boost our own emotional intelligence, and create a space for trust to flourish.

How to Implement the Platinum Rule

Now that we know there is a better solution to the Golden Rule most of us prescribe to, we can do better. Here are some steps we can take to practice the Platinum Rule in our own lives.

  1. Everything is new: In each interaction we have with others, we approach it like its brand new and we do not know what their expectations are. This forces us to get clear on expectations.
  2. Active Listening: Active listening is being present and open to everything happening around us. Its asking questions like “what do you mean by __” and paraphrasing what we heard. These are just a couple of active listening tools we can use as we interact with others. This builds trust and fosters understanding.
  3. Make good on it: Follow through with actions on the information we learn. For example when a loved-one tells us their love language is quality time yet we continue to shower them with words of affirmation and spend minimal time with the person. All that does is show them we didn’t care enough to treat them the way that means the most to them.  We must make good on the information we learn about others even if that means we must jot it down or learn something new.

All and all, the choice is ours. We must ask ourselves if its more important to treat people in a way that makes them feel good or a way that makes us feel good?

by Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author

We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others.  Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self.  Caring for others around us.  Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before.  UCA resources available to help include the Self-Care Center, Virtual Volunteering, publications and online store offering members huge discounts and always free shipping.

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