“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
That makes me sad.
And it makes me wonder about days gone by, when behaviours we see today would simply not have been tolerated.
Oh yes, there has always been prejudice, hatred, disrespect and bullying in the world. But never to the extent to which we see it today. Our global “tolerance” for what would have been intolerable in the workplace and the classroom scant years ago is creating a hue and cry, but how do we get beyond rhetoric and into meaningful action?
It starts with each one of us. A culture of respect in the workplace and in the world can exist only when we love and respect ourselves to the extent that our behaviour, words and actions say: “If I don’t want it done to myself, I won’t do it to others.”
A few thoughts on how each one of us can create a culture of respect in the workplace and in the world:
Respect Individuality and Individual Differences – A pretty broad statement, and one that’s borne out more in words than behaviour. What is the behaviour that demonstrates respect?
First and foremost: Disagree with issues, not people. When we personalize our differences, and make them about ‘me’ vs. ‘you’, the groundwork is set for disrespect. People’s feelings get trampled. It becomes ‘personal’. And how can it not? A healthy disagreement is about issues, not the person expressing that issue.
Next, deal directly with the source. No gossiping behind someone’s back. No griping about something that could be solved by taking a solutions-based suggestion directly to the source.
And we can respect individuality and individual differences only when we are confident and secure in ourselves. And we should ask ourselves the question: Is it more important to be right, or to solve the problem?
Respect the work we do– Understand that whatever work we do, we’re a piece of a much larger picture. Our contribution is significant. It means something. It’s part of an integral whole. It means being on time, being accurate, and doing not just the must-do’s, but the need-to-do’s and nice-to-do’s. It’s going above and beyond because it’s a reflection of us and who we are. We put our own stamp on everything we do. It’s important. It’s meaningful. It matters.
Respect the impact our behaviour and words have on others – “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Realize that tone of voice, body language (think eye-rolling, harrumphing, crossed-arm stance, getting in someone’s personal space) and attitude all speak louder than the words being spoken. There’s a great line that says something to the effect of: stop “It’s not important what I say. It’s important what you think after I stop talking.” (note: I’d give attribution if I could remember where I heard that!)
Respect the rules– Yes, even the ones you might not like. And if you don’t like them because they make little sense, then work to change them. Suggest solutions. I like Nordstrom’s employee policy of “exercise your best judgment”. That’s a rule that I think everyone could benefit from. Because when people are empowered to use their minds and exercise best judgment, they feel respected.
Respect oneself – The number one “rule”. To love and respect oneself is the wellspring to emanating that love and respect to and for others. It’s not just about being civil. It’s about true appreciation. And as Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”