Respect

Such a timeless topic.

If you ever want to see what pushes someone's buttons, ask about times they've felt disrespected. We – at least in the US – feel like we're owed respect simply by virtue of having been born. We expect it.

But do we give it?

Scenes from a movie

In the past few months, at various employers, I've seen things like these examples:

  • people talking over each other in meetings
  • water cooler chat taken to new lows with personal attacks on co-workers and bosses
  • “accidental” ommitance of select people on key emails
  • more than a few instances of foul language beyond any norm
  • excessive noise (music, speaker phone, etc) in open office environments

I know, I know; you think these are small things, minor annoyances or at best the price we pay to live in a collaborative open environment.

To which I say, nonsense.

These are the tell-tale signs that say we care about getting respect – not sharing it.

Two-way Street

We demand respect because we think its earned through birth and yet don't think twice about acting in the manners I've listed above, or in a hundred other small ways that say, its all about me. Really. Its all about me.

And all about me means its okay not to give respect.

But is it?

Respect and culture are of the same cloth, woven through hundreds of accepted threads to form a complete tapestry. One cannot demand respect while refusing to give it: the fabric tears away.

Can you be aggressive and assertive and driven and still show respect? Of course: the world is full of current and past leaders in the arts, sciences, politics and business who were tough and focused and made people feel like they valued them even when they disagreed with them. We can too.

Respect is an important part of feeling good about oneself – but it is dynamic and reciprocal.

The next time you sit pouting on the sidelines becuase you feel you've been 'dissed while grumbling that no one shows you the proper respect, ask yourself a simple question: do you?

 

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