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So, What’s Respect Anyway?

Do you believe in synchrodestiny—where actions, words and people “magically” connect at the same time?

It happened to me this evening when I attended a local networking event. The speaker was an 85-year old man who was George Burns incarnate with Henny Youngman’s humor (one-liners for you youngsters.)

The speaker DID say something profound; something we all know; something a bit jarring considering the financial services audience. He said, “It’s time to respect everyone the same.” He even felt compelled to explain himself and related it to his method of networking.

Why do I mention this?
The idea relates to how people treat each other in the work place. Today’s contemporary business settings often show “respect” for titles and status as the currency of the day. In fact, I don’t think it is respect at all. I think it is misplaced deference like we offer the Queen of England!

Consider the latest fan event you attended. O.K., someone has physical talent. I respect that. Now ask yourself, how closely do respect and compensation go together?

I say it’s a tale of our times; this formula says what we hold in high esteem. How do we measure compensation for a teacher who influences a lifetime of a student. How do we measure the skill and finesse of a nurse, doctor, clergy person who can hold a life in their hands? What new scale can we use that says a CEO is 6000+ times more important than the lowest rung on the ladder?

The problem is not the heirarchy of risk and decisions. It is that because someone gets (not necessarily earns) more money, that somehow their “life and times” are worth more. My challenge to you is to revisit the meaning of worth.

So what is respect anyway? In my universe (and a concept I deliver with my coaching clients) is that respect is acknowledgement. It is related to honor, recognizing wisdom, extending courtesy. It is a friendly nod, a silent or loud “thank you” for doing your part in my world. For me, it is being considerate of others’ time and resources. (Not like sitting for two hours in a waiting room.)

To a gang member, being feared is respect. That’s different; that’s being feared. Even parents fall into this trap. For sure, many managers own this definition.
This angle is more about control and wanting to micro-manage than about respect in my universe.

Listened to a condescending voice mail message lately? Who cares that the person you call is on the phone with someone else? That’s a silly thing to say to someone who is already frustrated that you didn’t answer your phone!

Or, consider, “The Multiple Choice Question”—I’m either on the phone, out of the office, with other people, bathing my dog, cleaning the hamster cage . . . you get it. How does that improve anyone’s day to know someone else has the attention of the caller?

Heard of Road Rage? That’s Phone Rage for me.

My personal favorite insulting voice mail is, “The Apology—Sorry I can’t answer the phone . . . ” Why be sorry? Let people know HOW they CAN reach you or when you’ll call them back—and do so. Give information, like you’re on sabbatical and calls are being taken by . . ., you’ve left the planet so just leave an email, your choice. Watch your credibility soar when you respect your callers.

This concept relates to service and why many people and companies don’t “get it” or “give it.” You know the ones that DO get it.

DO Try This At Home—
My “ideal” realm or business environment is taken from Richard Scarry’s children’s book, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. One scene is at the airport where the busy people are scurrying about their jobs. The child doesn’t say this one is more important. The child recognizes that different roles are at work, and they work best when they work together.

Well, isn’t that special (thank you, Dana Carvey)? Maybe it’s time for me to jump into my time machine and visit a time when we said good morning to the bus driver or the garbage man, men took their hats off inside buildings except church, Sir Walter Raleigh placed his cloak across a puddle, oh, I digress. We don’t have to go that far back. Let’s just lighten up and appreciate each other a bit.

What’s your experience? I’d enjoy hearing from you personally as part of a book I’m researching due for completion, late fall 2006.

Coach Cubas says: “Smile, breathe, and have people wonder what you’re on!”



As a credentialed business coach and analyst, one of my primary functions is to work with individuals and company managers to clarify where they are presently, where they would like to advance, and what tools they have and need to achieve their desired outcome.

I use a variety of tools to assess perceptions including Platinum Rule instruments, my experience and training in assessing behavior. My preferred tool is the EQ-i®, emotional intelligence inventory. I have specialized training on the EQ-i® and DISC Inventories and access to multiple other sources including a company culture index. I prefer the EQ-i® because it is the least judgmental instrument I have found. It focuses on strengths and areas of development related to the goals set by the individual. For example, people are more likely to apply the EQ-i®’s information rather than label themselves by the Myers-Briggs categories.

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