It’s a simple concept in theory, but in reality, not so easy for many of us. We all know that you have to give respect to earn it. I also believe that respect is taught or learned and clearly not inherent in everyone. The ability to respect others is something that comes with maturity and awareness; our internal conscience or sense of right or wrong must be active in order to understand that respect is a God given right. 

My favorite way to define respect is to break it down to its foundational components. We have to have an understanding of what it feels like to not be respected and then care about the impact of that outcome. Lack of respect is demoralizing and damaging to self esteem on a long term and ongoing basis. If someone is treated poorly during their childhood or their developmental years, they may never be able to build the appropriate amount of self esteem to function effectively in our society. They may feel that they never deserve respect.

We have to be shown what respect is to know how to give it. As we develop, grow and learn, we must be shown how respect works and embrace the fact that our differences are good and have value. We must learn that disrespect is not acceptable nor is it a basis for judging others or building walls which keep others out. We also need to remember that wealth is not a measure of a person’s worth and that education is not a tool to divide us, but a method to teach us that we must always strive to be fair, considerate and compassionate to our fellow man. Only with a sound understanding of how damaging disrespect can be can we become more respectful.

My expression for RESPECT is defined
as follows…

R–remember

E–every

S–single

P–person

E–earns

C–compassionate

T–treatment

Why is it hard to give respect in our society these days? Well, mainly because I believe it wasn’t shown to us or demonstrated to others by our role models when we were growing up and therefore we didn’t get a foundational understanding of its importance. I also think that long ingrained prejudices and biases in families or cultures result in lack of tolerance or compassion for others. You could even go so far as to say that respect was not in our scope of understanding or values if we’ve never engaged it or been able to embrace its value
or importance.

The bottom line for respect is that we have to change our mindset about others and be willing to remove biases, prejudices, obstacles and barriers and then replace them with understanding, compassion and caring. We have to open our minds to the perspectives of others and engage in some new ways of thinking about our differences. Respect will follow when we are willing to give a little in our way of thinking and expand our viewpoint. I can envision a world where people no longer judge one another by the color of their complexion but by the content of their character. It can happen; all we have to do is want it bad enough to make an effort to change. 

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.