An interesting discussion recently had us exploring the whys and wheres of the sources of disrespect that is found in the work place. Several opinions were submitted and the list began to grow as the examples of disrespect were shared. The consideration shown to coworkers is a reflection of the level of respect learned as a child.
With a brief reflection of friends whose children were not only disrespectful but incapable of being taught how to respect another person, beyond the immediate correction and or discipline after an infraction. We came to agree that a person cannot offer nor teach to their children what they ultimately do not have. And a company / employer cannot coerce respect for coworkers, customers, or bosses if they never really learned the issue early in life.
They may comply for a short time as they are new to a job or a new employer, but the truth leaks out eventually. A selfish focus, or manipulation, or demands for their way are quick to bring an end to teamwork within an office or company as a whole. And if left unaddressed can become an attitude that goes viral very quickly leading to a severely dysfunctional office. As an Operations Manager I have had to draw-in people who were affecting their office and the mood of other satellite stores. It doesn’t take long before the ‘mood’ spills over onto the customer, most often over the phone.
Disrespect comes in a wide variety of manifestations such as passive disrespect. That would be where one fails to flush a toilet leaving the task for the next patron. In a marriage it would be the one that always leaves the cardboard tube on the toilet paper dispenser without replacing it with a new roll. I shared with the students at the University of Arkansas an article published in the Wall Street Journal back in the 80’s. The article covered how people lost great opportunities for high paying jobs simply because they failed to extend common courtesy (respect) for other people.
For HR professionals the task of identifying key indicators of true respect, or the lack thereof, can be a valuable tool in deciding which candidates are asked back for further interviews. In the book, The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley identifies characteristics that millionaires use in the selection process when choosing a mate. Two of those qualities were ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ which were measured on how a person spoke of others in their absence. They looked for any indication of treating others with a two-faced behavior. If a person dealt amicably in person and then made disqualifying comments as the person walks away, it was an indicator of an underlying lack of respect for others.
It has long been advised to Salesmen as well as to job seekers, to treat the receptionist with respect and consideration. At some point the receptionist gets to have a say or some level of influence. Some of the interviews are conducted over a meal, possibly to watch how you interact with other people. Even in the face of poor service, would one publicly degrade or treat rudely the person serving them? Leadership would find a way to persuade a higher level of personal service without disrespecting anyone.
When facing a door that seems to be unreasonably locked, examine using respect and common courtesy as the key to unlock the door. Some people have been so abused or disrespected that time and repetition in addition to respect will be required. If you recognize that you have failed in this area, the power of a well placed apology may surprise you both. But here is where you must learn from your mistakes. The effort won’t go unnoticed.
Be aware that people are watching. If you find that your personal level of manners, courtesy and etiquette are below that required of the industry or office where you are applying, then seek some help. There are coaches and other resources that provide insight, but the real training comes through practicing the applications in the precise manner. Most people are unwilling to intentionally work on this area until they are in the area where the skills are required. Preparation and personal development are of great profit after you have invested in yourself.
Find someone with the highest of personal skills and take notes. Then compare your personal skills with theirs and determine where you need to improve. You can practice in many places; at home with those you love, in public with every waiter/waitress, with every salesperson you encounter, or with every opportunity that prevails. I guarantee there is someone watching your behavior. Someone is taking notes on you! Will you pass the test? Or, have you prepared yourself for the test? It comes from within, this desire to treat people with intentional respect. The heart will reveal itself if you don’t value others. Do you value people – or only on occasion? You can’t fake it, at least not forever.
Treat people with respect and Celebrate Success!