A couple weeks ago I was the witness to two individuals who clearly didn’t enjoy each other’s company, and well you know what, that’s ok. There are always people around that you won’t get along with either in your family at work or just people you run into during your day to day activities. In the situation that I am referring to the two individuals had a clear dislike for each other and every chance they had they were trying to provoke each other. It was a very passive aggressive fight that really made me wish they were both UFC fighters and that they would just get in the octagon and work out the differences so they could move on. At least if they were to fight, they would find something that I think is truly key in dealing with people on a regular basis and that is respect.
One of the individuals was being told they have to respect the other. Now I just found that to be the most ridiculous thing I had heard in a while, really someone could tell me that I have to respect an individual? As I apply this to me I have to look at many people that I have learned about over the years. What about Ted Bundy, what about Hitler, what about these truly evil people, I cannot ever respect them, and I never will respect them. So maybe comparing someone that I am not getting along with to Hitler is a bit over board. But the end result in my mind is that if you’re doing things or saying things that make me angry, how in the world can I respect people for decisions that they made?
So what the heck are they talking about?
Let me give you an example…
A number of years ago I worked for a developer that had been promoted to a director, and then again to an executive director. He worked for a Vice President who was also a developer who had been promoted throughout the years. Without going into specifics, their goals and my goals were not always aligned. I would try to secure the database and they would tell me that I needed to be more trustworthy. End result was I really disliked these 2 men. No matter what I did I could not bring myself to even pretend that I liked them. This was over 5 years ago and I still can’t pretend that I like them.
They made me so angry because they put my job at risk from many poor decisions they made with the databases that I had to walk out of meetings as to not do something that I really would regret. I was not only acting like a child, but I was acting like an ass. Now that I look back at it, I should have documented my concerns and when I was done if nothing changed, I should have just changed jobs. But I stayed there for over 5 years.
So does it sounds like I am rambling, well here is the meat!
Well, back to the disagreement that motivated me to write about this subject. These 2 individuals have been told that they need to respect each other. Yet I just don’t see how this is possible. In my mind respect is something that I feel for someone, respect is a feeling that I have for someone when I want to make decisions in my life that may make me a bit more like them. Respect is something that people feel for each other. You can’t tell me to be attracted to someone no more than you can tell me to respect someone. I am attracted to my wife, and I respect my wife. She makes decisions every day that makes me wish I could be more like her.
With that being said it may sound like I am promoting people running around throwing insults as each other. This isn’t the case either. I want to be clear when I say that you can’t force anyone to respect anyone. However, I think people need to be respectful. We are adults; even if we are not adults in age our behavior should be that of adults. Adults can be respectful in our actions to other people even if you don’t respect them. What does it mean to be respectful? Being respectful means not insulting people when you have been insulted, it means not lying to people, it means addressing people the way that you want to be addressed. Actions are how you are respectful. Respectful is when you are thinking about how much someone is a jerk and an idiot, but listening to them as they share their opinion.
Being respectful doesn’t mean that you change your opinion; it doesn’t mean that you roll over and let people walk all over you. Being mature means that you can continue to be respectful as many are not respecting you. I wish I could say that I behave like this all the time. The truth is I am not always successful in my attempts, but I will continue to try.
About 20 years ago a manager that I had and truly respect told me:
When writing the story of your life you are not the villain.
He also told me:
Few people wake up in the morning determined to make someone else’s life difficult.
I think it is much easier to be respectful of someone when I remember that the person I really want to insult did not get up that morning just to tick me off. And that person believes that whatever they are doing or saying is in their mind the right thing to say or do. Even if these are not the case and they are being vengeful, I can still try to be respectful.
So I challenge you, determine who you respect, who’s life would you like to use as a model for your own life? And I challenge you to identify who you have not been respectful to and take action in the future where you can share your opinions, have discussion and heck disagreements while being respectful. If I would have only learned this lesson years before I insulted my director in front of the President of the company by calling him a body part I may have had an easier road myself in my career. Maybe I can make things a little better not only for myself but for those that I work and interact with every day.
To those people I have been disrespectful to, well I apologize. For those people in my life I respect, and there are many of you, I thank you for making decisions in your life that make me want to be a better person, employee and manager.