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Character Quality of the Month

Respect:  Treating Others with Honor and Dignity - Go Beyond Co-Existing, and Value Others

One way we express our level of concern and care for others is to give them our undivided concentration, which helps us understand one another and bridge disagreements.

Team members will not always share the same opinion, and supervisors will not always have the same perspective of their peers or those who report to them. This is one area where attentiveness can make a real difference in our workplaces.

Help People Feel Heard

Whether we are working with our peers or those at other levels in the organization, we can strengthen our team by using full concentration to understand and appreciate alternative perspectives and positions. This doesn’t mean we will always agree, but the gift of full concentration can provide long-term benefits by creating a culture that values each person and his or her opinions. When team members feel valued, they more freely share their talents and ideas.

Minimize Multitasking

It’s tempting to multitask as we attempt to get more done in less time. While in a meeting, I was asked to give my opinion on the topic being discussed. Unfortunately, I was multitasking and had to ask others to repeat their views and share their information again before I could respond.

The message I sent to the group that day was that they didn’t warrant my full concentration. They had to repeat the discussion solely because of my failure to be attentive.

Research indicates that multitasking really means we switch our attention from task to task very quickly. (Read or listen to NPR’s story Think You’re Multitasking? Think Again by Jon Hamilton.) When one of those tasks is listening to another person or conversation, we risk missing essential parts of their reasoning or perspective. Consequently, we send a message that their views carry less value.

Limit Distractions

With so many ways to send and receive communication, it can sometimes be a challenge to have an uninterrupted conversation with others in the room.  Phone calls, e-mail, texts, and tweets can break our concentration and abruptly end our train of thought.

At a minimum, we can put our devices on silent or vibrate. We can also choose to make in-person conversations our first priority, and allow electronic conversations to take second place. Just as texting while driving hurts our ability to concentrate on the road, texting or e-mailing in the presence of others can also distract us from what’s most important.

Give the Gift of Honor

Whenever my grandchildren enter the room, I cease whatever I’m doing, give them my complete attention, smile big, get down on one knee, and greet them as if they are the most important person in the world. My intent is to show that, in that moment, nothing else matters more than them. My grandchildren consistently respond with joy and excitement because they feel honored and cherished.

Not surprisingly, I find that adults also respond with gratitude and engagement when they feel honored and respected. This might involve standing when someone enters a room,  extending a friendly handshake, taking genuine interest in someone’s life, and being “all there” when you attend a meeting, class, or discussion.

If we want to relate well with people and do our jobs with excellence, we must commit to be attentive.

“Leaders show respect by giving others their undivided attention.  They ask people for their ideas and really listen to what they have to say.  This lets people know that they are genuinely interested in them and value their opinions.  It makes people feel respected as worthwhile, competent individuals”.  Dr. Beth Cabrera, Cabrera Insights, Respect Others by Listening, 6/25/2010.


Respect at Home:

  • Show kindness and appreciation to others because you care
  • Recognize the inherent value in each and every person
  • Overlook annoying mannerisms or habits and identify ways you can help
  • Look for ways to go “above and beyond” what is expected of you

Respect at Work:

  • Leaders cannot expect more from others than they require of themselves. Do not expect those under your authority to honor you unless you first honor those in authority over you.
  • You can praise someone with a few simple words or a small investment of time
  • Do not address an individual issue in public or use a particular person as a negative example, unless you have permission and have an application for the whole group
  • Take note when others do “little things” to smooth out an unfamiliar situation or make you feel welcome

“We live in a diverse society - in fact, a diverse world - and we must learn to live in peace and with respect for each other.” – Stan Lee


EDG actively participates with Strata Leadership and the Character First program.


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