You’ve surely had the Golden Rule drilled into your head from a young age: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” These words have kept us ethical and on-track, particularly in terms of communication and relationships with others (If you don’t want others to lie to you, then don’t lie to others!).

Example: Bill’s direct report, Sarah, did an excellent job on her most recent project. Bill was so impressed that he acknowledged her publicly during a large division-wide meeting. He even had a special plaque made and asked photos to be taken for distribution in the company newsletter.

Public acknowledgements, plaques, and photos show tremendous appreciation…to Bill. To Sarah, these things are an embarrassment. Sarah, a quiet but industrious worker, is very uncomfortable with any attention, especially in large groups. Bill’s acknowledgement, ironically, tells Sarah that she shouldn’t work so hard, lest she be acknowledged publicly again. To Sarah, the company’s growth and expansion is thanks enough.

The problem with the Golden Rule is that it assumes everyone wants the same thing. It ignores the fact that different people are motivated by vastly different things.

Maybe the other person doesn’t want to be treated as you want to be treated.

You may or may not have heard of the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as they would have done unto them.” First coined by Dr. Tony Alessandra, the Platinum Rule accommodates the needs and feelings of others, focusing the relationship from “Here’s what I want” to “Let me understand what’s important to you.”

When practicing the Platinum Rule, you’re giving others the courtesy of appealing to their sensibilities before your own.

Example: Bill understands that Sarah prefers not to be acknowledged publicly, but still wants to recognize her hard work. Bill tells her privately how much he appreciates her and cites several ways her work has directly impacted the company’s bottom line.

We all need (and want) to be encouraged, appreciated, forgiven, and understood. How that plays out depends on the individual. The Golden Rule works best when considering the universal relational needs of others. The Platinum Rules works best when it’s possible to obtain evidence to adapt to another person’s style. So it’s important to practice both.

Now, let’s take it a step further and upgrade to “Double Platinum.” This is a concept coined by Bryan K. Williams: “Treat others the way they don’t even know they want to be treated.” Bryan provides an excellent illustration of the Double Platinum Rule here. In short, the Double Platinum rule isn’t only anticipating peoples’ needs, but providing information that otherwise wouldn’t be known, and ultimately adding value to others.

Example: After Bill’s private acknowledgement of Sarah’s excellent work, he began a conversation with her about her future at the company. He noticed that she became slightly uncomfortable – fidgeting and avoiding eye contact – when he brought up the possibility of a promotion. Bill gently and patiently prodded Sarah, who soon revealed that she felt inadequate moving forward because she hadn’t completed her college degree. This was a huge regret that she believed had impacted her chances of progressing in her career. Bill worked with Sarah to request funding and flex time so that she could return to school and keep her full-time job and benefits. The company’s investment was rewarded not only in Sarah’s loyalty, but in her continued drive to propel the company forward. She directly impacted revenue growth due to skills she gained as a result of her education.

The Golden Rule emphasizes consistency. The Platinum Rule emphasizes empathy. The Double Platinum rule emphasizes creating value and benefits beyond expectations.

When it comes to a successful job search, you don’t have to put everyone else above you. Instead, think about the Double Platinum Rule as an opportunity to go above-and beyond by stepping outside yourself, expanding your focus to include the needs of the employers you’re targeting. Winning over employers isn’t about you. It’s about them.

How has the Double Platinum Rule played out in your career, or your job search? Share your stories!