THE BLOG

7 Strategies For a More Respectful World

11/04/2014 11:48 EST | Updated 01/04/2015 05:59 EST

Aretha Franklin sang about it (R.E.S.P.E.C.T.), Rodney Dangerfield quipped about it ("I don't get no respect!"), and just about every workplace has a policy related to it (Respectful Workplace). It's perhaps even a regular topic of conversation around your kitchen table.

I am thinking about the topic a lot these days, largely fuelled by the media coverage regarding Jian Ghomeshi and the allegations surrounding the former CBC Radio Host. Jian is innocent until proven guilty, and as a wife, mother, sister and friend of many lovely men, I believe he deserves -- as much as the rest of us do -- that we withhold judgement until all the facts are out in the open. No matter what the end result of this situation, something went wrong; someone did not communicate properly; someone was hurt because they got something different that what they expected; someone did not respect someone else.

So, what, then, is respect? Dictionary.com defines respect as: "esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person...; proper acceptance or courtesy..."

Wikipedia defines respect in this way: "a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment").

In the many workshops I have delivered on the topic over 20 years, I consistently hear that respect means "being seen, heard and valued".

Often, when we think of respect -- we think about how we feel; "I do not feel respected in this meeting." Yet, the feeling that comes with being respected or not, relates to how we interpret what we are noticing in other people's behaviour. The person says or does something, we add meaning to that behaviour based on our past experiences, and then we feel the emotion connected to that behaviour and our interpretation of it. Respect is therefore more a description of what we notice in one another's behaviour, and what meaning we add to that behaviour.

So, can one person find a certain behaviour respectful, while another person finds the same behaviour disrespectful? Absolutely! That is why we cannot get around the need for open, honest, accepting communication. Respect is about understanding.

No matter what, when respect is present, we feel good. When respect is absent, we don't.

I thought it might be a nice refresher for us all -- at work, outside of work, in all of our relationships -- to remind ourselves about how to show respect to everyone we meet.

You will show R.E.S.P.E.C.T. when you:

R -- Receive information from the world around you. Open your eyes, ears and heart to others. Truly, intentionally, attend to what others are doing and saying.

E -- Express your wishes, interests, needs, and inquiries simply and articulately. "I'd like to work with you on the project." "May I kiss you?"

S - Share important information. Rather than assuming the other person knows exactly what you are asking or saying, be sure to give them enough information in order for them to understand.

P - Practice mindful listening. Pause (that means stop talking), focus entirely on the other person (their words and their non-verbals), breathe, pause.

E - Establish boundaries. Inquire, paraphrase and empathize with the other person. Then discuss your mutually agreed upon boundaries for this part of your relationship.

C - Create a ritual of checking in. Lasting relationships are those that provide consideration for the rights and responsibilities of each person, and clearly outline a way of relating that is comfortable and meaningful to everyone involved. Check in regularly and assess how you are doing.

T - Tell a friend. There is no question that you learn best that which you teach to others. Share the respect-generating tips from here - and others you learn along the way - with people in your life. Social learning is the best kind of learning - and, of course, people will learn most from you by watching what you do (not just listening to what you say).

To quote the beautiful Ms. Franklin....R.E.S.P.E.C.T.; find out what it means to me...