The tone of the meeting had become hostile, with people interrupting, yelling and making snide comments, and I was appalled. I’d just joined the Board of Directors for a non-profit agency, and was so shocked by the behavior of this group of professional adults, that I needed to think about it so I could understand what was going on.
The situation was one in which everyone had his or her own agenda, and nobody listened to what anyone else had to say. As a result, it quickly deteriorated into an exchange that I would expect only from young children. It was both uncomfortable and unproductive, and I left feeling disgusted with the group.
I realized that what was being exhibited at this meeting was a total lack of respect. The Board members were acting disrespectfully towards each other, themselves, and the organization they were there to help.
This realization led me to think about respect, and what exactly it is.
According to the dictionary, respect is:
- Exhibiting courtesy and deference: an expression (by word or deed) of esteem or regard
- Showing courteous regard for people’s feelings
- Treating others with dignity
- The condition of being honored or well regarded
- Valuing one’s standing or position
- An attitude of admiration or esteem
- Regarding someone highly; thinking much of/valuing them
I realized that the positive relationships and interactions in my life were effective because the people involved treated each other with respect. It’s what my parents used to refer to as exhibiting good manners (an old-fashion but still appropriate term). This means listening quietly and attentively, hearing what is said, responding calmly, and using a tone and demeanor that show regard and esteem for the people you’re interacting with.
This situation spurred me to look at my own behavior, and I was horrified to note that there are times when I treat others disrespectfully. I wasn’t aware of it, but I began to see that when I feel tired, stressed, overwhelmed or ignored I lash out at the people around me. As a result, my family and staff often bear the brunt of my disrespect.
I realized that it’s important for me to be aware of the way I treat others, and insure that all my actions convey a positive, respectful attitude towards the people involved. This means everyone, from my children, spouse and friends, to my business colleagues, the clerk in the store, and fellow Board members.
I also realized that I should always treat myself with respect. I began to see that others are aware when I respect myself, and I’m more likely to receive respect in return.
As for the rest of the Board, I understand that I may not be able to change how they function. However, if I monitor my own actions and model respectful behavior, I hope they will notice and respond in kind.
So, I’m wondering who do you treat respectfully or disrespectfully? What types of situations spawn these behaviors and what is the outcome of these interactions? It might be something to think about.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience.
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