Rule #5: The Platinum Rule
People are not, never were, and never will be wired the same. They don’t think the same or act the same. They don’t appreciate the same things, and they don’t dislike the same things. They don’t laugh at the same jokes, and they don’t watch the same TV programs. They don’t vote the same ticket, and they don’t all root for the Mets. Some play golf while others play mahjong. Some have higher morals than others. Some have a higher tolerance for things they don’t understand. Some are loud while others speak just above a whisper. Some have pets while others dislike furry animals with a vengeance.
The key to establishing sound working relationships is to recognize the fact that people don’t enjoy being treated the same way. They like to be treated as individuals. Once you manage to meet people on their own terms, in a way they find acceptable, you will be well on your way toward establishing a working relationship.
Years ago, we were all taught the Golden Rule: “Do unto others the way you would have them do unto you.” The Rule is clearly an honorable strategy designed to help people get along with each other. At the time these twelve words were memorialized, they were universally accepted as the road map for success. The philosophy this rule endorsed was definitely worth a shot.
The harsh reality in today’s fast-paced, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world is that the Golden Rule needs a new coat of paint. To say it another way, the Golden Rule has become yesterday’s news— mulch for the vegetable garden.
It is time for a new, updated slant to this guiding light. It is time for . . . The Platinum Rule. This rule will improve your relationships while minimizing unnecessary stress, and it will lead you to all sorts of new and interesting experiences.
THE PLATINUM RULE: Do unto others the way they want to be done unto.”
The difference between these two doctrines is dramatic. The Golden Rule assumes that everyone thinks and acts the same as you do. It implies that if you like to be treated in a particular fashion, others will enjoy the same treatment.
This is not the way things work. The fact that you enjoy reading doesn’t mean I enjoy reading. The fact that you find Roseanne reruns amusing doesn’t mean that I have nothing better to do. My wife thinks Lucille Ball hung the moon. I don’t.
What you think . . . what you believe . . . what you want in the big picture of interactive relationships doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what your prospects and your customers think, believe, and want. If you treat others the way they like to be treated, you are hedging your bet in favor of better chemistry and you will be well on your way toward establishing relationships worth treasuring.
This lesson deserves a little more scrutiny. So let‘s take a closer look at the Platinum way of looking at things. Consider four individuals. I will give them numbers for identification purposes.
Person #1: the president of a Fortune 500 company;
Person #2: an engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratories;
Person #3: a salesman for a copier company;
Person #4: an office manager at a major insurance company.
All four individuals in our example are good, honest, hard-working people. The world needs each and every one of them to maintain a balanced spin on its
axis. No one individual is more important than the other. Thank goodness for them all.
For the sake of argument, assume you are Person #3, the copier salesperson. Let’s take a look at a few communication combinations so you can internalize the importance of this chapter.
If you want to establish a level of rapport with the Los Alamos Engineer, you would be wise not to refer to the handle on the left side of the copier machine as the ”what-cha-ma-callit,” the “gizmo,” or the “thing-a-ma-jig.” A down-to-earth, fun loving salesperson would know exactly what you were talking about as long as you were pointing at it. But this would not hold true for the engineer. You, the salesperson, believe that if people know what you mean, then that is all that counts. Everything else is just semantics.
The engineering personality, however, spent many hours of schooling and study to learn exactly how the machine works and actually respects the nomenclature of each and every working part. The engineer is concerned with precision, details and practicality. He needs to make himself entirely clear at all times. You, on the other hand, are a little less disciplined. By nature, you don’t enjoy the nitty gritty or the small print. After all, you have another appointment at 2 o’clock this afternoon on the other side of town. You could have personally beaten Richard Carlson to the punch and written “Don’ t Sweat The Small Stuff” with your hands tied behind your back, but you were pressing to make your 10 am tee time.
If you are not careful, your haste to get through your sales interview may be interpreted as lack of knowledge or disinterest coupled with a low tolerance level for engineers. You, on the other hand, feel certain that the engineer is tracking right along with you, and that he understands exactly where you are coming from. In fact, because you feel that you are so easy to get along with, you believe that most people can read your mind. Your thoughts are so basically fundamental that others must know exactly what you are thinking. This can be, and often is, a costly mistake made by many new (as well as seasoned) salespeople.
Engineer types can be very taxing, but thank the heavens above that we have them bobbing and weaving down the corridors. Engineers make things work, albeit very slowly and meticulously. They can be very frustrating at times due to their slow pace and thorough decision making processes. You, the salesperson, must learn to cool your jets and work with them at their speed while making every effort to address each question, doubt and concern.
What would happen if you, the copier salesperson, treated the Fortune 500 president the way you like to be treated? Major problem! Mr. Big, as a rule of thumb, expects your undivided attention and you would be wise to err on the side of respect. You are quick to invite Mr. Big to call you by your first name, or even your nickname. On the other hand, it is a good bet that he would prefer initially to be called “Mr. Big.” Begin this relationship more formally.
In most cases, president types are fixated on the bottom line. Give them: (a) the facts; (b) the trends and a recommended solution with a back-up option; (c) the anticipated cost savings; and then (d) get out of their way.
When in the presence of a president type, practice the “3-B Strategy” I mentioned earlier: Be bright. Be brief. Be gone. These people are decision-makers. They are busy and are responsible for feeding many mouths. They are serious and mean business. In other words, net your story out and don’t spend too much time getting comfortable in your chair. If you are asked if you would enjoy a cup of coffee, don’t take it to heart. (This is like someone from Atlanta telling a Yankee salesperson “Y’all come back now . . . ya hear?”) This is a polite something to say, not an invitation to move in. President types come with an ego. Treat them like the important people they are.
Salespeople, in general, enjoy a little more shmoozing. They have a reputation of being easy going . . . they enjoy being on stage . . . they enjoy the sound of their own voice and making other people laugh. They rarely find themselves in a situation they can’t talk their way out of. (Or at least, so they believe.)
This isn’t necessarily bad, and it is not necessarily good. Sometimes these characteristics are an indication of nervousness or a lack of self-esteem. Most sales types have a tendency to believe their own press. Someone, many years ago, told them they had the “gift of gab” and they decided to milk this trait for all it is worth.
Salespeople can be hard to read at times. They can shift from calm and interested to bored and antsy in the blink of a gnats eye. You must “stay tuned” and not overstay your welcome, as they can go from placid to hurried in a heartbeat. You must pay attention and carefully watch the depth and pace of their interest level. A good clue comes from their eyes. Key on their eyes. Once you notice them glancing off to the water cooler, you might as well pack your bags and head for the elevator.
Sales professionals are action people. At first, everything sounds like a good idea. They are quick with “one-upsmanship.” Get ready for the “yeah, buts” or “That certainly has merit, but I have a better idea.” They often don’t have a clue how things work. As a rule of thumb, don’t sell them short. They are street savvy and not afraid to say or do the unexpected.
The Office Manager
Office manager types are warm and security oriented. They need time to understand what’s going on. If they trust you, you can make decisions for them. But don’t guess wrong. Their memories are long . . . very long.
In essence, these occupations break down into the four types:
- detailed-oriented people;
- fact-oriented and bottom-line people willing to make quick decisions;
- action and personality-oriented types; and
• patient and caring “people” people.
Despite their distinct personality differences, the common denominator among all four types is that they are naturally drawn to people who exhibit similar characteristics and personalities as their own. People feel comfortable with people who think and behave like they do. Once you learn to identify the traits of each personality type and connect with and wholeheartedly embrace the Platinum Rule, you will be in the top 3.2% of relation-building aficionados.
For a more complete study of identifying and adapting to behavior styles, let me direct you to two valuable resources: Tony Allesandra’s book, The Platinum Rule, and Target Training International’s book, The Universal Language, by Bill Bontetter, Judy Suiter and Randy Widrick.
The 60-Second Observation Exercise
This whole concept of knowing your individual style, recognizing other styles, and marrying the two in conversation is a critical skill if you want to enter the Big Leagues of Sales. Here is an exercise that will put you miles ahead of your competition when it comes to dealing with people.
The next time you are introduced to someone for the first time, I want you to ask yourself two questions and then observe the person closely for the answers.
- Question #1: Does this person appear to be introverted, or extroverted? Introverted people tend to keep to themselves and only speak when spoken to. Extroverted people are quick with a joke, a hello or an opinion. Extroverts readily introduce themselves. Introverts normally wait to be introduced
- Question #2: Does this person appear to be people oriented or task oriented? Does the person in question appear to care about family, employees, prospects and customers, or is the prospect focused on the bottom line and the results of the deal. For signs of orientation, look for clues such as pictures of family and friends, or documents of achievement and certifications on the wall.
Here is how these orientations/personalities and the occupations we discussed cross-reference. Here are some other small clues to be looking for:
• How quickly does someone flash a picture of their wife, kids or dogs?
• How quickly does a smile appear?
• How is this person dressed — conservatively, or flamboyantly or in between?
• Is the handshake firm or not?
• How’ s the jewelry factor?
• Have they washed their car in the last five years, and what kind of ride are they driving?
• When was the last time they took a vacation?
There are clues just about everywhere. All you have to do is start tuning in and you will be able to identify who you are dealing with and what your best approach should be.
It also helps to remember that people like to socialize with people they like. And people have a tendency to like people who think and act like themselves.
Some people : Like to be direct; Like to have fun; Like new products; Like proven products; Like a lot of data; Get confused by data; Like to be touched; Like personal chit-chat; Like time to think; Like to negotiate; Like showy products; Like traditional products;
. . . and others are just the opposite.
Key Behaviors For Each Type
Here is a quick re-cap of the four types we covered in this chapter, along with some do’s and don’ts for each.
• When you are in the company of Engineer Types: Provide lots of proof. They need time to absorb your information. Make it a point not to rush them.
• When you are in the company of Office Manager Types: Take it slow and easy. Be sure to answer all of their questions. Make it a point to earn their trust over time.
• When you are in the company of Sales Types: Do not spend much time on the details. Allow time for socializing. Make it a point to have fun.
• When you are in the company of President Types: Don’t say or do anything that can be interpreted as a waste of their time. Be efficient and businesslike. Make it a point to get to the point. Acknowledge their position.