Giving Respect… When It’s Not Due

We live in a peculiar society that seems to waiver back and forth between what we feel we’re entitled to and what we believe others must earn.

When it comes to how we view ourselves, we expect goodwill and leniency, don’t we? We hope that people will give us the benefit of the doubt, assume innocence, and treat us as the subject matter expert when our expertise is needed. Yet when it comes to others, we raise the bar exponentially. We expect others to prove their knowledge and dedication. They must earn our trust. They have to be worthy of our kindness.

When was it decided that we determine who is worthy of our common courtesies and basic respect?

I saw a quote on LinkedIn the other day credited to David Willis that said, “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it, not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.” Wow, is that ever true!

Your ability to get along, to be kind, to trust and to show respect has very little to do with the recipient of your actions and a whole lot to do with you. As leaders, we should strive to be the kind of people who are kind first, trust first, forgive first, and respect first…before we deem that it is “earned” and even after (and if) we decide they don’t deserve it.

Here are some simple ways to show respect even when you’re struggling to do so:

  • Ask nicely. Say “please” and “thank you.” These common pleasantries all too often fall by the wayside in our hurried day-to-day lives.
  • Bite your tongue. You really don’t need to voice your opposition or annoyances just for the sake of letting it all out or simply because it makes you feel better.
  • Include others. Allow other people to play – even if you don’t always see eye to eye. That person with whom you always disagree just might be who you need on your team to bring balance and a different perspective.
  • Value others. Everyone brings something to the table. Make it your goal to find out what that something is and try to rely on that person in that area.
  • Forget about what you “feel” like doing. Too often we let our feelings dictate how we treat others. Instead, act your way into feeling.

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