I've been consumed with the concept of respect this week. Respect for individuals. Respect for companies. Respect for each other. Without respect -- or at least a degree of empathy -- we have nothing. You can read a diatribe that I aimed at someone yesterday who has not shown the type of respect to either me or others that I think is warranted (see comments 3 and 4 at the end of this post). But what can we do to create more respect during a time when we're all pushed to the limit with the economy? With credit to Aretha Franklin, I think we could all use a little more respect. Perhaps in this rant we can illustrate what respect is by what it is not (these few examples are based on observations I've seen in the past couple of months).
Respect is not about telling suppliers that a current agreement is null and void and that they've got to find a way -- anyway -- to reduce costs by another 5% in the next 60 days.
Respect is not about continuously soliciting the advice of others under false pretense of an arrangement that the soliciting party knows will not happen (but not the other).
Respect is not about laying off people on your team and going out and falsely celebrating the remaining members (to make them feel better about the security of their jobs) to build morale after the fact.
Respect is not about showing people the door with no severance package (except in the case of truly exceptional circumstances such as a business shutting down, employee fraud, etc.)
Respect is not about selling a concept to someone inside your company knowing full well that it will be impossible to implement in advance (double whammy: the same case where you know someone else will take the fall for failing to implement when it is not their fault).
Respect is not about what is doing right by short-term thinkers (e.g., Wall Street) versus long-term shareholders and stakeholders.
Respect is not about lying to anyone (especially suppliers that have trusted you in the past) for any reason, regardless of the pressure that someone has put on you to do so.
Respect is not about keeping information from suppliers about your own position (e.g., a late payment).
Respect is not about resorting to legal recourse as a first remedy.
Respect cannot be contrived for favor.
Respect is impossible to bestow unless it is self-possessed.