The Platinum Rule

The most basic lesson one can learn in life is how to respect others and gain their respect. We live within a world in which societal norms – each with their unique culture, upbringing, and socialization – are mingled in every part of our lives.

By Bill Hood, ASDPT Fellow

Daily on social media, screenprint shop owners are posting comments about their business dealings with clients. A client voices their displeasure with an order. Another client wants a refund because the color did not match the previous job. And, yes, the list goes on as some owners believe that their clients are far too prejudiced to fault-finding.

This fault-finding is taken as a personal criticism by most because they feel it relates to their work negatively. But in drilling down to the root issue of the problem of disagreement we find that it really is nothing more than a failure to meet the client’s expectation.


Every person has an expectation of the final outcome in every endeavor. However, expressing those expectations is usually not voiced because humans do not necessarily want to be viewed as being “too picky.”

Screenprinting is a service-oriented business offered to the public. And, with that service comes the ever-looming professional knowledge of how to meet the expectations of the client. This skill is necessary for creating a smooth transaction between the service provider and the client. In the end, if the client’s expectations are not met, there will be an active disagreement.


Criticism is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life. Criticism can therefore take many forms. How people go about criticizing, can vary a great deal. In specific areas of human endeavor, the form of criticism can be highly specialized and technical; it often requires professional knowledge to appreciate the criticism.

To criticize does not necessarily imply “to find fault”, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an object against prejudice, no matter positive or negative. Often criticism involves active disagreement, but it may only mean “taking sides”. Constructive criticism will often involve an exploration of the different sides of an issue.

Criticism is often presented as something unpleasant, but there are friendly criticisms, amicably discussed, and some people find great pleasure in criticism (“keeping people sharp”, “providing the critical edge”).

When criticism involves a dialogue of some kind, direct or indirect, it is an intrinsically social activity.

Criticism is also the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends. The goal is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, it is often evaluated how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre or a particular cultural tradition.


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.

I have learned that respect has many 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 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.

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.”

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 oftentimes 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 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!”

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