A good friend of mine, Kofi, recently challenged a group we were traveling with. He said, “Do you all know the Golden Rule?”
Certainly, we responded: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12)
“And that means that we should treat people the way we ourselves want to be treated, of course. But I prefer what I call the Platinum Rule.” He continued, “The Platinum Rule is to treat others the way they want to be treated.”
“But how do you do that?” several of our group asked.
It seemed clear to me, “You have to ask them.”
So many times we neglect the communication aspect of our relationships. We make lots of assumptions, believing that what we think is best or true or right is what others should think is best, true or right. We assume that, without asking, without communicating, we just know what others want and how they want to be treated.
I haven’t created a list of best communication practices for this blog post, but I have spent a lot of time contemplating how to apply the Platinum Rule in my life. It’s a fresh idea, a new way to ponder the goal of living a Christian life of service to my fellowman/woman.
The way we treat others really shouldn’t be first about ourselves, deciding how we want others to “do unto” us, and secondarily deciding how we act toward others, although that can be a starting place. But the step up is to openly communicate and learn about the realities of and desires in another person’s life, to find out what it is they want, how they want to be treated, and then to act accordingly. It is following the Savior who was more concerned with the needs and wishes of others than with himself.
When we asked Kofi how he wants to be treated, he considered for just a little while then responded, “With respect and dignity.”
I’ll bet if we ask, lots of people will agree with that, although they may have different priorities as well. I think we should try asking.