Living Respectfully – Part 2

respectful-competitionComedian Rodney Dangerfield joked about not getting any of it! And the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, spelled it out in song and challenged listeners to “…find out what it means to me!” Yes, respect is something everyone wants! And yes, for anyone serious about being an effective leader we need to ensure it’s being shown to those around us. In my last SFS Instructor’s Blog post I shared some practical ways to display respect.

Remember that showing respect for someone doesn’t have to be grand and flashy. There are countless, every-day ways in which it can be demonstrated. For example…

Working to understand another person’s point of view. How often do you truly take the time to comprehend how others view a situation? (Steve Toburen calls this “Putting on your customer’s eyeglasses”!) Or are you more apt to assume you already know what they’re thinking?

This abruptness can easily lead to cutting your “conversation partner” off in the middle of their comment. (Or even worse do you find yourself impatiently finishing other’s sentences?) By barging in not only on a person’s thought but also on their time with our oh-so-important comments we miss a huge opportunity to be respectful.

Our modern, high-tech environment provides us with perfect covers for showing a lack of respect. Many have grown up with technology giving the illusion that it’s been around forever. In actuality much of it is fairly recent. Maybe that’s why many of us are still trying to figure out how to use technology in a respectful way!

For example caller ID (which was first introduced in 1968) was first intended to provide “informed consent” to the person receiving a phone call. Now it’s used to avoid talking to people we’re trying to avoid!

The same can be said for email. It used to be when someone sent a hand written note, or even a memo, it was considered respectful to respond. With email it’s easier to hide out. We can claim we never received it (“Let me check in my spam folder.”) or let it “age” in our inbox until we feel like responding—regardless of its importance to the sender.

Perhaps the most offensive way we show disrespect to others is when we act arrogantly toward them. (And especially toward our employees!) As our business becomes more and more successful it can be difficult to stay humble. The self-confidence which led to our success can easily mutate into arrogance! And nobody, regardless of their position, finds arrogance respectful. In fact, when arrogance interferes with showing respect to others not only will we have relationships that need to be mended but personal issues that need to be resolved.

Don’t forget that showing respect to others includes our competition, even in the face of defeat. It’s understandable that nobody likes to be beaten by a competitor and the customers we lose may have a profound effect on our own business. Yet losing business to a competitor doesn’t mean we can’t still show them respect. While we may not respect our competitor’s motives, causes, or corporate values, we can still respect their talent or abilities.

Being respectful to others is about stepping outside ourselves and paying attention to the people and circumstances surrounding us. People will be forgiving when we make mistakes or make bad calls as the leader of our company. They understand that everyone makes mistakes from time to time. What they won’t be forgiving of (nor should they be) is being disrespected!

Chuck Violand (more about Chuck)
SFS Instructor
CEO Violand Management Associates

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