Respect is an intangible good. It can be given. It can be received. It can, in some ways, be measured. But it is always something that you have control over. You determine who you are going to respect. But if there is a need for a choice, a choice between respecting someone, giving them their due, or not respecting them, where do you cross the line?
What price do you put on respect?
William J. H. Boetcker was an influential public speaker born almost 150 years ago. His take on respect was this:
That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.
Self-respect. That’s part of the key. You have to live with yourself. And if you can live with yourself, doing things that you know are wrong but make others happy, well you know the path you’re on.
In the business world, public or private sector, what is respect?
- when you hide secrets and escape clauses deep within a contract are you respecting the other party?
- when you treat people differently, based on their gender, their age, or their occupation, are you treating everyone with respect?
- when you abandon your guidelines, your principles, because they are too costly, are you treating anyone with respect?
We all place a line in the sand saying “I will go no further”. For some of us, that line is immediately in front of us. We have a firm sense of what respect is, how it feels and how it should be given. For others, the line is variable and depends on conditions that have no bearing on whether someone deserves respect, only on how others will perceive our decision.
Some people will say that under stress is where a person’s mettle is known, for it is in those times of stress that a leaders mettle is truly shown and measured. How do you measure up?