I overheard a conversation the other day where one person said to the other “everyone wants respect, but nobody is willing to give it”. Unfortunately these words are very much true and respect is perceived as something that is owed, not something that is earned.
When we look around the working world we see ego driven bosses who demand that they are given respect by their employees for no other reason than their title, while they continually mistreat and disrespect their employees. These so called leaders drive wedges through their workplace and create disdain from the ground up, ultimately unsettling the foundation of their leadership ability.
The social world is no better where on any given day you will witness cars honking at one another, people giving others the finger, aggressive panhandlers and people who are aggressive towards panhandlers, rudeness to service people, and a general disrespect for anyone who is moving at a slower pace that you are; even if they are old and/or handicap. This social behavior is turning once vibrant communities into tarnished streets where people no longer even look up when they walk, let alone say hello to a passing stranger.
This all starts with how we are raising our youth, where “because I am the adult” is the primary response to a child’s “why not”. Where we have athletic and academic environments in which the adults are allowed to yell at the children, but if it is the other way around the child is kicked of the team or suspended from the school. Yes we “are the adult”, but when that is our primary response what has your child learned? When we show children that we can treat them in a certain way just because we are older, what do you think that they are going to do to kids younger that they are?
Let’s make sure that we understand this one simple fact; you are not owed anything in life no matter your age, title, economic status, race, orientation, physical strength, mental capacity, etc. If you want respect you have to be willing to give respect and in many cases you need to go first. Like many things in life you need to initiate the action in order to receive the response that you want, sow and then reap.
If you want respect from your employees, give it to them. If you want your streets to be friendlier, then say hello to someone as they pass by. If you don’t care about any of this then just make sure that you explain things to children further than “because I said so” since they have the time and ability to create change, at least the two 12 year olds I overheard understand it.