When I wrote my 2013 book, The Respect Effect, I included an entire chapter on The 12 Rules of Respect. Since then, these simple to understand and easy to implement guidelines have become the cornerstone of Connecting with Respect®, my firm’s employee training curriculum based upon the book. But here’s a little secret. As great of a read as it is (okay, so I’m possibly a bit biased), you don’t need to read the entire book to quickly enhance your reputation and influence by improving the way you interact with others. Here’s my challenge to you: Read through the 12 Rules below and pick just 3 that you think might work for you…then practice them with those whom you spend the most time. My bet is that you’ll not only have a few of your co-workers and friends (and family members) giving you a surprised double-take, but you’ll also find your influence with them increasing, as well.
1. Be aware of your nonverbal and extra verbal cues. As a general rule, we all spot phonies pretty quickly. So pay attention to what your face and tone of voice may be conveying to others. Eye-rolls, sighs, glares and looks of distraction can easily send an otherwise respectful interaction off track.
2. Show curiosity for the views of others. You and I both woke up this morning already knowing how we see the world. But guess what? If all we do is look for information and perspectives that reinforce what we already believe, then we never learn anything new. Being genuinely interested in the experiences and perspectives of others is not only respectful, it’s smart!
3. Treat other people like they’re smart. While those around you may be smart in areas different than you, in all likelihood, they’re still quite smart about some things. So treat them that way. There are relatively few actions more esteeming to our own sense of worth and value than to be treated by others as if we are smart and capable human beings. If you appreciate this yourself, then pass it on to others as well.
4. Listen better by shaking your “but”. Words like “but” and “however” tend to negate the value of what came before them (“That’s a good point, but…”). So when discussing topics where your opinions and beliefs may be different from those with whom you’re talking, try to use words like “and” or “at the same time” more often. By validating the ideas of others first, you’ll find them more willing to listen to what you have to say.
5. Look for opportunities to connect with and support others. Don’t be too eager to find the faults with others’ ideas and perspectives. Instead, specifically look for common experiences or where you actually agree with others at first. As the old saying goes, if you wish to be understood by others, first seek to understand them and highlight the common ground you share.
6. When you disagree, explain why. Innovation and growth almost always require a conflict of ideas. So when it is helpful (or necessary) to share differences in perspective or opinion, do it. But do it politely, tactfully and in a manner that does not devalue or diminish the perspectives or worth of the other person.
7. Seek ways to grow, stretch and change. It’s easy to fall into a rut with our family members and peers when our own lives become too predictable. By getting out of our comfort zones and exposing ourselves to new experiences (and people), we naturally become more open-minded, curious and willing to engage those outside our normal circles.
8. Allow yourself to be wrong on occasion. “If I’m right, then you must be wrong.” Right? Wrong! It’s a trap that we all fall into occasionally. Believing that our own beliefs, perspectives and opinions are always “right” is one of the fastest routes to disrespectful treatment of others. Practice being a bit more humble, always allowing for the possibility that others’ ideas and beliefs are just as valid and worthy of consideration and respect as your own.
9. Never hesitate to say you are sorry. Nobody’s perfect. At some point or another, we all slip up and do something that offends another person. Maybe it’s a poorly thought out comment, a momentary loss of temper, interrupting someone mid-sentence or just a dismissive tone in our voice. When you do it, own it and quickly apologize. You’ll be a bigger person, both in your own mind and in the mind of the person who you treated disrespectfully.
10. Engage others in ways that build their self-esteem. None of us, no matter how mentally and emotionally strong we are, can thrive in work or social environments that are toxic. Since there will always be others who go through life tearing others down, pay it forward and do just the opposite. Whether with your family members, friends or peers, make it your style to reflect the intelligence and worthiness of others back to them. We never stand so tall ourselves as on the days when we lift up others first.
11. Share your ideas proportionally. Have you ever been in a group where one person just seems to monopolize the conversation with their stories, ideas or opinions? Don’t be that person! Not only is making the effort to allow others to be heard a sign of respect, getting everyone’s input will also help your group or team make smarter decisions.
12. Smile! There is nothing quite as powerful at communicating sincere respect and appreciation for others as a genuine, heart-felt smile in their presence. Practice this one often!
Rome wasn’t built in day and reputations don’t change overnight. But with some consistent effort at practicing a little bit more respect (fade in Aretha Franklin), you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fast it can improve...and how your influence goes up with it.
To learn more about bringing Respect into your workplace, visit: https://LegacyCultures.com
About This Contributor
I create more respectful and inclusive workplaces each day
"As a dedicated leader and advocate for positive change, I am committed to fostering a workplace culture grounded in integrity, empathy, and continuous learning. I believe in the power of collaboration to drive innovation and create environments where individuals can thrive. With a passion for authenticity and a relentless pursuit of excellence, I strive to inspire others to reach their full potential, contributing to a world where every interaction is guided by respect, inclusion and compassion