Respect isn’t one single big thing.
It’s not a task on our to-do list that we can check off at the end of the day.
And it’s certainly not the same as political correctness (which, ironically, can often lead us to say and do things that are almost as painful as the politically incorrect, stereotyping statements we’re trying to avoid).
Respect is the glue that holds us together in groups. It’s all the small things that add up, day by day, week by week, year by year, to build relationships … or break them down.
And despite the familiar saying “don’t sweat the small stuff,” when it comes to respecting individuality and diversity, the small things do matter. A lot.
Respect is …
- Saying hello to someone when we see them – even if we feel as if we don’t like them personally or agree with their viewpoints.
- Consistently using the “magic words” (please and thank you) – no matter who we’re talking to.
- Not talking behind someone’s back about any other individual or group – even if we feel personally offended, threatened, or frustrated by someone’s behavior, personality, or beliefs.
- Taking the time and making the effort to get to know someone – so you can respond to who they are instead of what you believe about the group you think they belong to.
- Never using group labels or categories to refer to an individual – even if they’re obviously a part of that group (such as men/women, old/young, and so forth).
- Remembering to be compassionate with ourselves – because our judgments of other people are often based on our own feelings of insecurity, confusion, or fear.
Whether we like someone or not, whether we agree with their choices, beliefs, lifestyle or not, and even when we feel threatened by who we think they are, the reality is that they deserve our respect.
It’s a whole lot easier to come to work every morning when we know we’re walking into a safe and respectful environment!
Recommended Training Resource: In This Together presents seven questions concerning the little things that can enable us to overcome differences and form effective teams and organizations. Each question has three potential answers that are then explored in more detail to understand consequences and options.