“Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized.”
Respect is one of those things that we’re taught as a young child so that we can fit into a diverse culture, but sometimes respect can get lost in the noise of the world. What with politics and religion and the vast array of opinions, it is hard to remain calm and respectful – especially if someone is in your face and is blatantly showing you disrespect. However, as leaders, respect must be at the forefront of our thoughts.
Respect is not an attempt to categorize everyone under the same blanket. It is also not an attempt to standardize responses to certain situations. All people are unpredictable and everyone is different to some extent, so it would be impossible to treat everyone the same way and for it to always be considered respectful. This is where loving your people comes in. When you’re leading, you need to know how your people are and what it looks like to show them respect. This builds trust and camaraderie between you and the people you influence.
Now, as the above quote alludes to, respect can easily lead to idolization of a person. No one should be made God, that is unfair to them and the expectations will crush them; you don’t want that for the people you lead. Instead, as with everything else in leadership, there need to be boundaries to respect. Talk to people like they’re people, but don’t talk to them as if they’re your ruler; treat people as people (beautifully individualistic), but treat no one as your savior (the fixer of all your problems). Always mind where you are on these scales with people around to gauge how healthy your relationships are and how respectful you are.
How does one respond to a person showing blatant disrespect to you? By showing them respect. Most belligerent people simply want to rouse a response out of you, so if you do not give into the temptation (it’s hard not to want to argue back), they will typically back off and talk more sensibly. Disrespect operates on a feedback loop; it will continue on as long as there is a response to the initial input. And the thing about feedback is that the longer it is fed, the louder, more obnoxious, and more nonsensical is becomes.
Everyone, respect one another even when they show you disrespect, and leaders, respect those you influence. The world, your workplace, and your community will be better for it.