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November 4, 1991

Taking Action

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Infamous comedian Rodney Dangerfield coined the term “I get no respect” in his stage act. For years people have laughed at Rodney’s inability to generate respect from anyone he comes in contact with. Check out the following one liners from Rodney’s Web site :

When I was a kid I got no respect. The time I was lost on the beach and the cop helped me look for my parents I said, “Do you think we’ll find them?” He said, “I don’t know, kid, there’s so many places they could hide.”

It was the same way in the army, no respect; they gave me a uniform that glowed in the dark.

I tell ya I get no respect from anyone. I bought a cemetery plot. The guy said, “There goes the neighborhood.”

I don’t get no respect. I joined Gambler’s Anonymous. They gave me two-to-one odds I don’t make it.

I don’t get no respect at all from my dog. Well, he keeps barking at the front door. He don’t want to go out. He wants me to leave.

With my wife I get no respect. I took her to a drive in movie. I spent the whole night trying to find out what car she was in.

Whether it was his wife, his parents, or other people he interacted with, Dangerfield has made a living on sharing the variety of ways he has been disrespected. We communicate respect for others or a lack of respect for them in a variety of ways.

To check your respect level, complete the following table that deals with the fruits of our actions each day:

Action Taking this action shows respect by… Not taking this action shows a lack of respect by…
Listening Expressing interest in another’s opinion

Not valuing what someone has to say
Being on time Valuing the time of others, keeping your commitment

Wasting the time of others, failing to live up to your commitments, being inconsiderate of other’s schedules
Returning calls/e-mail

Using kind words and a kind tone

Not interrupting

Cleanliness in your designated area

Keeping your word

Politeness, saying please and thank you

Asking permission to borrow something

Avoiding gossip

Knocking before entering

Turning off cell phones during meetings

Avoiding humor that is off color/offensive

We often show differing levels of respect to others based on their relation to us. We often respect our bosses more than our employees. We respect our spouses more than our children. We respect our grandparents more than our cousins. It seems that we have been trained to show more respect to those higher than us on the organizational chart and less respect to those below us.

Maybe this is true because there are no impending ramifications for disrespecting someone who has no authority over you. If a parent disrespects his child, the child cannot ground the parent or withhold his allowance. If that same parent disrespected his boss, then he might find himself without a job. We therefore tend to find less pressure or responsibility to show respect to those who are younger, less talented, less experienced, or simply lower in rank than us.

It is interesting though that respect is valued most by these very people in our lives. It is expected of them to respect us as their leaders. The Golden Rule challenges us to show them the same in return. Most people greatly desire the respect of the people they work for. And when employers give it freely, it creates a very positive working environment. Not only will it enhance the esteem of the workforce, it will enhance performance as well. This is true in the work place, as well as the home and the neighborhood.

Play the role of company president for this scenario.

1. How can you as the head of your organization show respect to your employees?

2. Why is showing respect to those under your leadership especially important?

3. Why is showing respect to your peers and to those above you easier?

4. How can respecting those under your leadership enhance performance?

Man wishes to be confirmed in his being by man and wishes to have a presence in the being of another. Secretly and bashfully he watches for a yes which can come to him from one human person to another. —Martin Buber

Probably no greater honor can come to any man than the respect of his colleagues.—Cary Grant

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