I was lucky enough to be invited as a panelist and moderator to the very first iteration of the International Women Empowerment Programme recently. It’s an initiative sponsored by the Consulate General of India here in the UAE and some very prominent speakers were in attendance including a lady who lost her leg in a tragic accident and yet went on to be a famous dancer and actress whose biography is part of the Indian School Curriculum.

The attendees were, primarily, from India and so Sikh or Buddhist and it got me thinking about karma and how it relates to HardTalk.

For those who don’t know,(and I’m no religious scholar so correct me if I’m wrong!) karma is defined (in Hinduism and Buddhism) as the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. The urban dictionary is a little more user friendly suggesting that karma is “getting what you give~if you’re mean, you get bad karma~bad things happen. If you’re kindly & nice, you’ll get good karma~good things will happen.”

So what’s this got to do with HardTalk?

In the last edition of Insights we talked about how we often justify our own bad behaviour by citing how others have “done us wrong” in the past. For example, “he was rude to me so I can be rude to him”. Whilst this might feel good in the moment it doesn’t help us get the results we want.

Instead we need to be thinking about the Platinum Rule.

The Golden Rule is better known and, in many situations, isn’t awful advice. It states “do unto others as you would have them do to you. In other words, treat other people–in business and in life- the way you yourself would want to be treated.

The problem is other people aren’t “you” – they’re different. Whether as a result of their age, gender, education, culture or other filters they may not want to be treated in the same way you would like. So if you’re working in a multi-cultural environment or with many, different generations or across functions where the educational background is very different the Golden Rule might actually be doing more harm than good.

The Platinum Rule is less well known but more considerate and effective because it tells us to “do unto others as they would want done to them”. This takes into account the fact that all of us are different.

One of the things that we’re trying to do when doing HardTalk is to influence others. Treating them how they would like to be treated is a great way to achieve this.

As the late Dale Carnegie put it in his famous best-seller, “How to win friends and influence people”:

“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?”

If you consistently follow the Platinum Rule, you never know – maybe Karma will kick in and you’ll be treated as you want in return.

And what if you don’t know what other people would like? It’s easy. Ask them and then ListenHard!


If you’d like to learn more about mastering the art and science of difficult conversations or HardTalk you can do so here; by signing up for the newsletter or sending us an email. We’d also love to hear your thoughts on this and other topics on LinkedIn or Twitter .

Dawn Metcalfe is an executive coach, facilitator, trainer and leadership advisor. She is also the author of Managing the Matrix (published in both English and Arabic) and HardTalk™. Dawn is the founder of Dubai based PDSi, which helps individuals and teams get even better at what they do, and has worked with business leaders around the world to change the way they see the world, their behaviour and their impact on others.


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