People often talk about the Golden Rule: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is sometimes presented as “treat others as you would like to be treated.” And since platinum is like gold for hipsters, we also have the Platinum Rule: “treat others as they would like to be treated.”
The problem with the Platinum Rule is our limited ability to comprehend the views of others. We think of things our way and often can’t even understand that someone might see things differently. I once read a story about Queen Victoria’s refusal to outlaw lesbian sex; the story goes that it wasn’t due to the queen’s socially progressive stance on human sexuality, but she refused to believe that it was a real thing.
The Platinum Rule can work when we can receive guidance regarding the treatment others would like to receive, but when the views of the other are unknown, we fall back on the Golden Rule. I have to assume that you are like me and treat you how I would like to be treated.
The biggest problem with the Golden Rule is the change it has undergone. Now we have something I’d call the Looking Glass Rule: treat others how you would like them to like to be treated.
The Platinum Rule says to find out if your officemates care if you have loud personal phone calls at your desk. The Golden Rule says don’t have loud personal phone calls at your desk if you would dislike it were your officemates to have loud personal phone calls at their desks. But the Looking Glass Rule says have loud personal phone calls at your desk because you would like your officemates to be okay with you having loud personal phone calls at your desk.
This is why someone in the office can be angry about my phone calls while not comprehending my anger about his phone calls. What matters isn’t how others feel, it’s how you want them to feel. After all, how can I know their feelings, which are outside my comprehension? But I can know my feelings about their feelings, so that’s the metric I target.