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Practicing “Pakikiramdam” through the Platinum Rule

We grew up steeped in the Golden rule: “Do into others what you want others to do unto you.”

Yet for the past few years, specially when it comes to our work and advocacy for Neurodiversity, I have reframed my stance from the Golden Rule to the Platinum rule, a shift that was introduced by my colleague and strengths-based coach Saskia Wenniger:

Do unto others as they would want done to them."

"We all grow up learning about the simplicity and power of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want done to you. It's a splendid concept except for one thing: Everyone is different, and the truth is that in many cases what you'd want done to you is different from what your partner, employee, customer, investor, wife, or child would want done to him or her."- Dave Kerpen, author of the book The Art of People

What does this entail and why is this important?

Shifting the focus from Transactional to Transformative Relationships

When immersing ourselves with the Platinum rule, we are shifting our focus from the I to the other. We are exploring what it means to be in right relationships with others around us that is not transactional. Rather it invites us to form connections that are more transformational. It also involves making sure we know how others around us want to be treated. The Platinum rule encourages us to move away from providing transactional reciprocity to deep attunement and empathy.

Understanding Feelings and Needs

In this paradigm shift, we are not only checking in with our own feelings and needs, we are also figuring out what others feel and need. In Nonviolent communication, the emphasis is to give and receive messages that centers on two very important questions:

  • What’s alive in us?

  • What can we do to make life more wonderful?

When we tune in to the other person’s feelings and needs we see them in their humanity. We become reliable barometer of their needs, values, and goals. We also provide support based on compassion and respect.

The Platinum rule cultivates a deep sensitivity to personhood. It is an exercise in “pakikiramdam” (Tagalog term for shared inner perception) that increases the chance that our connections are personalized and genuine.

Pakikiramdam is shared inner perception. It is an emotional a priori that goes with the Filipino personhood. It is a heightened sensitivity and keen inner feeling for another that allows for pakundangan (great consideration, reverence, care, and deliberation) in engaging with others.

Pakikiramdam is about being skilled in reading the other person’s feelings, guessing inner states, tracking and adjusting behaviors. It requires receptivity to many non-verbal cues, such as subtle facial expressions, tones of voice and bodily gestures.


Pakikiramdam happens inside and out

Pakikiramdam is deep sensing and attuning to what is going on inside of you and outside of you. What we tune into are the different sensations. feelings, emotions, body actions and thoughts that are happening inside of us and around us. In practicing pakikiramdam, the invitation is to sense the "I', the you, the us, others, and the greater field".

Pakikiramdam happens consciously or subconsciously and it also happens fast or slow.

Different types of sensory information (auditory, tactile, visual, etc.) are processed at different speeds by different neural pathways in our brain. It happens in milliseconds and it can also happen slowly with deliberate focus and intention.

Pakikiramdam is relational.

We often tune in more to people who are "ibang tao" (not one of us). When we are with people who are close or familiar to us, there is more directness and openness. We are also able to understand the state of the person given our familiarity with them and thus practice pakikiramdam less than we do with people who are new to us.

Pakikiramdam is contextual.

We can interpret myriad of cues and behaviors in different ways depending on the situation and the level of ambiguity. There is more ambiguity in actions and dispositions with people who are "ibang-tao" and thus require more attunement.

Pakikiramdam is improvisatory.

It requires constant sensing or feeling on what is happening within one's self, the other, in between us and in the greater field. This acceptance of emergence also entails coming up with appropriate behaviors that can guide us during interactions to avoid conflict, smoothen relationships and respond to signals or cues (example attuning to signals that tell us when something is unsafe or undesirable and deciding when to pause, pivot or push through).

How we practice pakikiramdam is shaped by personality and cultural differences.

People perceive things differently. We choose to select different aspects of a message to focus our attention based on what interests us, what is familiar to us, or what we consider important. Personality and cultural background deeply shape the way we perceive things. For instance, research has found that four of the Big 5 personality traits—openness, conscientiousness, extreaversion, and neuroticism—can impact our perception of organizational justice


  • practice sense-making

  • surface feelings and needs

  • notice and attune to signals around us

  • improvise and pivot based on what is emerging

  • help in emotional regulation and co-regulation

  • clarify and ambiguous/ and/ or critical situation

  • align actions with inner perception (intuition)

  • raise minority voices in the space

  • become aware of our patterns when engaging with others

  • listen to what is not being said

  • check in with others

  • pick up on the energy in the room

The Platinum Rule is not just about trying to intuit what others might want, specially when they are struggling to tune in with themselves and share what their feelings and needs are. It involves tapping into our shared perception -“pakikiramdam” - to gauge how others wish to be perceived and treated. This requires moving from our default mode of “Golden Rule” framing to embody the “Platinum Rule” and be mindful of our own judgments, opinions and biases that might cause us to respond to other people according to our own ingrained beliefs, values and perceptions.


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💡 Or would you like to explore more on how to design engagement within team that promotes healing, liberation and belonging?

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