We talk a lot about respect, and at a personal level you probably know what it's like to feel disrespected, but have you ever wondered about what it means to give respect?
There are two parts to respect: The first is to admire someone for their abilities or achievements, but that's the easy part. It's easy to respect someone famous for their abilities and achievements, but what about people who aren't famous? Like you and me? Does that man we're not worthy of respect? Of course not; everyone is worthy of respect and this comes from the second part of the definition — due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others. This is where real respect lies and where we often feel disrespected.
We feel disrespected when someone, through their words or actions demonstrate that they don't care about what matters to us. I had a boss once who managed an office of about 75 people. He knew everyone's name, and when he ran into someone he would ask about their family, or their interests. Everyone loved this guy because he respected them as people, regardless of their position in the company.
How did he know so much about people?
Well, he was curious. He wanted to know what was important to his people, and that's the thing about respect. To be respectful is to be curious about people.
"What's going on with you, and how can I help?" Often you don't have to do anything to respect people, just listening and knowing what it feels like to be them is enough.
I know you respect me when I can tell you feel me. So if respect is important to you, don't spend your time complaining about being dis-respected. Instead, start looking for where you could be more respectful; and the place to start is with curiosity. Like Aretha says in the song respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.
This week, if you really respect someone find out what what they care about, what they're worried about, what they're hoping for. And when you find out, show them that you care. If it matters to them, then it matters to you too. That's respect.