By Mary Loden, PE, PMP, MBA – Principal Consultant Compass Management Consulting, LLC

Many of us grew up being taught the Golden Rule – a moral principle that essentially states that one should treat others as one would like to be treated. It is a simple and straightforward rule, but while well intentioned, in my opinion it doesn’t work. This is because people are different, and what one person wants may not be what another person wants.

I’m a high energy person and like project meetings that are fast paced and where decisions are made quickly and decisively. I like lots of discussion and debate, and really struggle with silent pauses in meetings. However, I work with people who prefer processing time and who like to think things through before acting. Both personality types have their pros and cons. And to better manage projects, I’m trying to follow the Platinum Rule.

The Platinum Rule is a variation of the Golden Rule that takes personality differences into account. It states that one should treat others as they would like to be treated. This means taking the time to understand the other person’s needs and preferences, and then adjusting and acting accordingly.

There are several reasons why the Platinum Rule is better than the Golden Rule.

  • It’s more respectful. The Golden Rule assumes that everyone wants to be treated the same way, but this is not always the case. For example, some people may prefer to be given space when they are feeling upset, while others may prefer to be comforted. The Platinum Rule takes into
    account these individual differences, and it allows us to treat others in a way that is truly respectful and considerate.
  • It’s more kind. It encourages us to treat others as individuals. People are not all the same, and there’s no “wrong” way to be a project team member. All personality styles are valid and deserve to be valued and understood.
  • It’s more effective. When we treat others as they would like to be treated, we are more likely to build positive relationships with them. We are also more likely to get better project communication because each team member will feel heard and given time to process the way they can best process information.

As a team building exercise, you might consider having everyone take a personality-type test to better understand each other.A good free test that is similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is at this website. And the next time you’re working with a project team, ignore the Golden Rule and practice the Platinum Rule.