The Platinum Rule
By Dr. Michael Chang (Office of Global Learning)
Technology has made the world smaller and most of the things we do have become cultural interactions. In the book The World is Flat, Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman noted that the new era of globalization started in 2000, which continues to this day. This third era of “Globalization 3.0” is all about the world coming together as a global village “The thing that gives it its unique character – is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally. And the lever that is enabling individuals and groups to go global so easily and so seamlessly is not horsepower, and not hardware, but software – all sorts of new applications – in conjunction with the creation of a global fiber-optic network that has made us all next-door neighbors”. There is however another kind of “software” that is every bit as important as the one stated by Friedman. Though not in the conventional sense, global competence is the crucial software needed for our minds in this age of globalization.
As we enter into the early phase of 21st century, it is widely recognized that the skill set needed in our globalized world is rapidly evolving. Traditional boundaries and borders have become less relevant than in any other time in history. Increasingly, we find that our work, social and local communities have become more global. This is all the more evident in Singapore as our country strives to be an international hub for various industries, including finance, trading, legal, logistic and medical.
Living in a multicultural society like Singapore, being globally competent has become an essential life skill in itself. However, in reality, we still have a long way to go. In a 2013 research conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies and OnePeople.sg, 50% of those surveyed have the tendency to decide what a person’s behavior and views will be like based on their race, before they even interact with them.
Learning takes effort. Stereotyping is the laziest thing to do. While students may be world- beaters at the traditional skill sets, there are many other specific skills and competencies that cannot be tested easily, like cross-cultural understanding and the ability to connect and collaborate with others.
Many of us commit to “the Golden Rule”. It simply means that we must treat people the way we want to be treated. The Golden Rule has worked for many centuries but it is outdated. The rule focuses on you. How you like it. It does not accommodate the feelings of others.
An update on it is “The Platinum Rule”. The Platinum Rule states that you should treat others the way others want you to treat them. What a difference! The platinum rule requires you to interact, take the time to learn about others’ values and wants and treat them accordingly. This is a necessity for any multicultural society. To be truly effective across cultures, this is an important rule to follow. Remembering this rule will go a long way towards making you a globally competent individual.