As kids, we learned the most basic lesson about respect – treat others the way we want to be treated. This is a great life lesson that has carried me through many relationships in my lifetime. As I get older, however, I am starting to believe that there is something better than the Golden Rule. Some might call it the Platinum Rule.

The Platinum Rule says this: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.”

As a diversity practitioner, I have learned that respect has many different meanings. Everyone has their own idea of what respect looks like, sounds like and feels like based upon their unique culture, upbringing, and socialization. There may be some similarities; however respect is one of those concepts that can be very unique to each individual.

For example, depending on a person’s culture, respect can be shown by not making eye contact when speaking to an individual. In other cultures, it is considered respectful to kiss the person that you are meeting with on one or both cheeks.

Although the Platinum Rule is an easy enough concept to understand, it may be difficult to put into practice. In order to really implement it, you must have a conversation with the person(s) that you interact with about what respect is to them. Understanding what respect means to someone else requires getting to know them well enough to understand their culture, life experience, and perspective.

We live and work in a world where it is no longer enough to treat others the way that we want to be treated. The Golden Rule can often times be used as an excuse to treat others in a disrespectful manner. In fact, sometimes it may be no more than a shallow justification. How many times have we heard someone say “Well, that wouldn’t bother me” or “I don’t find that disrespectful” or “What’s the big deal?” I challenge you to think outside of yourself and go a step further to learn about those whom you interact with on a consistent basis.

I encourage everyone to consider adopting the Platinum Rule. Engaging others in a manner that is respectful to them will deepen your relationships with others when they realize that we care enough to learn about what they need and want.

Aretha Franklin says it best “R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to ME!”