I can remember very clearly a few individuals that I have encountered in my life that not only had little ethics or moral fiber, but that also seemed to thrive on the notion that they were better than others and didn’t have to be accountable for their actions. I recall that most of them acted in a manner that was disrespectful and unnecessarily rude toward others.  The first very significant lesson that came out of those encounters for me was that I was ashamed for/of them and their behaviors, even embarrassed; and secondly, that I vowed that I would NEVER act toward others in the way they did towards me.  

One person in New Mexico was a classic bully and egomaniac, and found great pleasure in berating his senior team for their opinions after entrapping them with a challenging question about a subject that they must give their opinion on.  I’ve never witnessed a more deplorable and sickening display of sheer ego, harsh bullying and inexcusable harassment. Another was a female manager at a company in Florida that was so insecure by my people and networking skills that were superior to hers, that she would sabotage me and purposefully countermand the directions that she had given me just moments before.  Needless to say, she was respected by no one.

While those situations made an indelible impact on me, I can promise you, they do not linger or cause me to be insecure.  I have learned over the many years of life’s trials and errors, that you can’t fix stupid and that you can’t be made to feel inferior by others unless you allow them to do so. Many of us take these “encounters” personally and then retain them in a way that is not productive or healthy for us. We allow ourselves to become consumed with fear or doubt by the unfounded and off-handed remarks or comments of a bully, egomaniac, etc.

What I believe needs to happen is a return to good, down-home, honest and feel-good RESPECT!  This process involves interactions that are open and honest, respectful and are based on the principles of common courtesy.  What do I mean by that you ask?   I mean that these types of things need to happen…

• Do not act one way when your boss is present and then turn into a “bully” to your staff when he/she is not.

• Do not say you’ll do one thing when in reality you have no intention of doing it.

• Listen with an open ear and mind; do not pre-judge situations.  Objectively evaluate the person/situation and give the person a chance to prove their worth.

• Show courtesy! Have manners, be polite, act in a civil manner and show consideration for others.

• Do not assume guilt of the “lesser” party (the person without the title/years of service) but instead give them a chance to thrive, grow and learn from mistakes and lessons.

• Don’t always assume that your management team is honest, ethical, untouchable and perfect angels–you may be surprised to find out that they are not close to that standard!

Here are a few key concepts, in my book, on how to excel at building and earning respect…

• Remember, respect is earned, but only if it is displayed and provided honestly to others.

• Always say what you’ll do and do what you said–keep your word, commitments and promises.

• Keep respect as a key tenant of your principles.  Never allow anyone on your team to disrespect others.

• Finally, remember people never respond well to unwarranted, unproductive criticism.  Be honest in your feedback but do so in a productive way. The goal is to make change without demoralizing others.

If you always remember the Golden Rule when dealing with and interacting with others, you are already on the right path. Treating others the same way you want to be treated makes not only good business sense–because your employees will treat your customers in the same manner in which they are treated–but it is the moral and ethical way to live your life.  With respect as a foundational value, your business and your employees can grow and thrive in an environment that is more productive, instructional, and most of all, respectful!  

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to vegaslinda89129@yahoo.com. Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.