Aretha Franklin sang about it. Hip hop rappers rap about it.
The word “respect” hangs on board room walls and is included in most organizations’ core values. Respect is considered a key ingredient of universal ethical business practices, along with fairness and integrity.
So what is it? Let’s dive in.
Does respect mean the same thing to all people?
Experience has taught me, maybe not.
Are there universal behaviors that cross cultures and generations? Not sure about that one either.
My mother, who will remain ageless in my eyes and certainly in yours, leaned over to me in a restaurant and whispered, “How disrespectful! That young man is wearing his baseball cap while at the dining table.”
Another time, my niece noted to her mother recently, in her best “valley girl” tone, “You don’t, like, respect that I should, like, be able to be on my computer, like, whenever I want.”
And yet another time, I can recall a colleague shaking his head in disdain, commenting, “I obviously do not get any respect these days! My students are on their phones all through class!”
Texting at the table? Shorts at a formal dinner? What’s the right approach here?
As life often does, my work life as Director of Ethics and Education and my duties as a faculty member of Claremont Lincoln University, overlap. It doesn’t matter which of the four CORE classes we think about–Mindfulness, Dialogue, Collaboration or Change–respect is a thread that weaves and tugs through the conversations.
When first asked about what it would mean to you, a quick response might be something about “being kind and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
But does it go beyond the golden rule?
Front Porch recently evaluated 5 behaviors that indicate you are being treated with respect.
Front Porch owns and operates retirement communities for Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care.
Front Porch Ethics Service, did an informal study inspired by a chapter in Piero Ferrucci’s The Power of Kindness. (Great read, by the way!)
The original purpose of the project was:
- To explore respect as it relates to Front Porch residents and employees
- To identify behavior indicators of respect
- To translate those behaviors into specific care-giving skill sets and training opportunities in order to maintain the commitment to serving our residents with dignity and respect.
Front Porch Ethics Committee members canvassed 200+ residents and staff member to ask, “What are five behaviors that indicate to you that you are being treated with respect?”
The responses organically grouped into five categories:
- Authentic/present listening
Do any of these categories speak to you?
I’ve heard some say, “Just acknowledge me with a smile and I feel respected.” I think about how many times, in my busy day, I might walk by someone without really connecting with them. Have I been disrespectful?
I’ve posed a lot of questions but don’t have a concrete answer for you on what exactly is respect. And that’s a good thing.
I don’t have a set definition, but what I do have is only a desire to make sure I attempt to be respectful. I do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but it helps open dialogue and makes way for collaboration. I know the world would be better if there were more of that kind of thing!
So, what do you think? Does respect cross cultures and generations? (Was that you my mom saw in the restaurant with the baseball cap on?)
What does respect look like to you? Let me know what you think in the comments!