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Respect Is Given. Not Earned.

Posted: December 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

I
was raised to treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO. My parents impressed upon me at a very early age that it was important to treat others how you want to be treated. If you want to be treated with respect, then you must give respect. Any kindness you send out to the world will make its way back to you. You reap what you sow.

And if you want to be respected by everyone than you should be the first to show respect. Some of you may be reading and thinking that this is a pretty universal concept that can be found outlined in every major religion. Be nice to people. Don’t be awful. It isn’t complicated stuff.

I was 16 the first time I heard someone say “Respect is earned. Not given.” I was in high school and I remember one of my peers spitting those words into the face of our remarkably even-mannered vice principal. And to this day I can’t help but associate those words with that same petulant arrogance.

Why on earth should respect be earned? Admiration, surely. But respect? Basic kindness for your fellow human beings? Why should we ever not give that?

For starters, the person making the claim that their respect is earned seems to have an incredibly inflated view of what their respect is worth. It is not like there is only a finite amount of respect that a single person can give at one time. Additionally, it’s remarkably egotistical to act like one’s own respect is the pinnacle of what human beings should aspire to achieve.

Imagine if we all treated each other with a base level of indifference. If two people with this mentality meet each other, then they will never respect each other, and so neither of them will ever take the first move towards advancing any kind of positive relationship.

And in a corporate environment this has massive ramifications for employee culture. People that only treat those above them with respect are perceived as two faced and ladder climbers. They aren’t nice for the sake of being nice. They are nice because they want to use other people for their own ends. They are fake. That isn’t respect. That’s deception.

Respect is something shown regardless of how much money someone makes.

Additionally, the hierarchy of a company is often set up to ignore the basic facts of the company. Companies sell either products or services. And there are only two types of people at a company; those people who add value, and the people who support the people that add value. If your company sells widgets, the only thing that makes the company money is producing widgets. So why then do we stigmatize line workers and hero-worship CEOs?

There is a lot of opportunity in fields like manufacturing for people that are willing to work hard and better themselves. A Humans of New York post really caught my eye and it said this:

I work at a machine tool automation company. We build the machines that build the cars. High school wasn’t for me. I didn’t respond well to being lectured and having things jammed into my brain. So I started out sweeping floors at the factory, then I got moved into the saw shop, and now I do electrical installation. I’m up to $17 an hour now. And I’ve started studying PLC so I can move up even further. There’s actually a lot of opportunity in my field. There’s not much competition. Nobody my age wants to do this stuff. They all want to go to art school or make video games or something. I think maybe it’s because too many people are being told to do whatever they want. Because no matter what you think you can be, there’s still gotta be people like me.

“Because no matter what you think you can be, there’s still gotta be people like me.”

We have a culture of disparaging the people who work hard, long hours at a midnight drive-thru, and yet they provide us with an incredibly valuable service. And I think that is just plain wrong. We should give the people that add value the respect that they deserve. Even if it isn’t glamorous.

As for the rest of us, we should ask ourselves, how can we best support the people that add value to our company? Well we can do things like eliminate waste and provide the value add-ers the tools that they need to do a good job. Things like continuous improvement systems, or streamlined, visual work instructions. We can treat each other with respect.

About the author:

Trevor Brookes

Trevor Brookes

Trevor Brookes is currently working with the Nessis Incorporated. He is responsible for updating the companies social media, generating digital content, and facilitating meetings between clients and sales representatives. Trevor is also a professional actor and has been connected with InVision Artists Talent Management. He has also presented a workshop “Implement TWI in your workplace and improve your company’s efficiency”, organized on November 9, 2016 by Nessis Inc. and ASQ Ottawa. View Trevor’s full profile at Linkedin.

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