I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking about the notion of respect and its importance in social settings.
How would our interactions be different if respect was present when we engaged? For example, if we intended to respect all the participants in a meeting, would we still dominate the meeting with our own opinions or would we share the floor with others? What if a team member wasn’t performing at a high-level? Would we take the time to try and understand what was getting in their way?
Because I’m actively involved in Twitter dialogue, I’m often saddened by conversations that become “insult parties” when people cannot agree. As I recently tweeted:
Respecting each other doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything and anything. In fact, that would probably be unhealthy. For example, there are a few people in my Twitter circles who have suggested that we redefine Agile or move beyond it to something more “modern”. I disagree with some of these thoughts (and that’s substance for a subsequent post) and yet I still respect them and respect the fact that they have that view even though I don’t agree with their opinion.
Respect (in my humble opinion) is even more critical when an individual is involved in cultural change (change management) initiatives. As an Ibo boy growing up in a Yoruba community, I learned at an early age that taking the time to understand the differences in the cultures was an important form of showing respect. If I wanted to be able to influence, I needed to respect (even if I didn’t agree). Later on in life, I was introduced to the famous Stephen Covey maxim:
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
(What should we do when we’ve totally lost respect for an individual or group of individuals? I’m curious to get your thoughts.)
Being respectful of others can be especially challenging in certain circumstances. Let’s keep trying.