Engaging Your People – Part 2 of 6

Last week, we talked about how to make the WOWplace safe for people to engage and contribute. This week’s topic focuses on Rule #2: a WOWplace is RESPECTFUL.


We all work hard to be respected… and to show respect to others. But, often when we’ve worked for years to achieve a certain position of status or income, it is tempting to think, “I’ve earned this level of respect throughout my life; it should be given to me automatically at this point because of all I’ve done in the past to get here!”

While this may be a tempting thought, let’s not forget a few critical facts:

  1.  Many of the people who were around while we were “earning” our respect are not around now, so they don’t really know what we’ve done in the past to get where we are today.
  2. We may be a TITLED leader, but that does not make us an ENTITLED leader. We are not entitled to anything except benefit of the doubt. Once we reach a certain level of success, we should at least be afforded the courtesy of receiving benefit of the doubt that we’ve done something right (often MANY things right) in order to reach that position. But the position, power, income and title do not entitle us to any more than that. Beyond benefit of the doubt, we must earn whatever is to come our way… which brings us to the third fact to keep in mind:
  3. Respect is not something you do once and then you’re done. On the contrary, respect is earned and RE-earned every single day.

The best way to earn respect is to give respect. So, I say: GO FIRST!

For example, if you’ve ever watched the movies The Freedom Writers or The Ron Clark Story, you know they are about teachers who try to prevent students in inner city schools from dropping out and reducing their chances of success in life. But the students didn’t want anything to do with these teachers. In fact, they actively disrespected them in an effort to get them to quit and leave the students alone. But both of these teachers summoned extraordinary courage in the face of active disrespect and decided to show the students respect first – earning the students’ respect in the process.

Someone had to go first – and it wasn’t going to be the students. If both parties had decided to wait for the other party to go first before showing any respect, the stories would not have ended in the successes that occurred. By deciding to go first, the teachers earned the right to have the students listen to – and more importantly, trust – them.

One more thing to keep in mind – actually two more things:

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should…

Just because you don’t have to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t…

Quick story to illustrate these two points:

My husband and I visited Japan and while there, we visited with the high priest of the second oldest temple in Japan (whom we had met through my Japanese language tutor a few months before the trip). Due to Japanese custom, this man’s status in his country is very high and there are very few people to whom he is required to show respect. However, almost all are required by custom to show him respect.

While we were at his temple, we were amazed at the way he showed respect to everyone he met! You could see both the respect they had for him and the respect he had for them, regardless of their position or job duties at the temple. He was a striking example of both the incredible relationship-building power of GOING FIRST and proof that just because you don’t have to (show respect to others) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. By showing respect anyway, he earned more respect than he ever could have earned due to his status alone.

Just keep in mind that trust and respect go hand-in-hand. If we always seek ways to go first to earn both, everyone wins!

In the next post, we’ll talk about WOWplace Rule #3: A WOWplace is Human… not Humanoid!

Have a great week…


Sandy’s book is available on Amazon.com

This entry was posted in Go FIRST!, Nuances That WOW, Respect, WOWplace Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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