The Respect Deficit and how to fix it

I’m appalled at the ignorance I see in the media, in our politicians, in our leaders, in our street protesters, and so many other people.  We are in the midst of two huge deficits, both of which threaten the continued existence of the country and millions of organizations and relationships.

The first deficit is the Federal Deficit.  Almost every one of every political persuasion agrees that our government cannot keep on spending the way it spends without a huge financial crash.  It’s inevitable unless those in power get smart instead of being greedy for power.

The second deficit is the Respect Deficit.  Rudeness, crudeness, vulgarity, name-calling, and character assassination seem to be in greater supply than at almost any other time in history.  And quite simply, organizations and relations never last when that becomes the norm.

We desperately need to have Respect be the way we treat others and others treat us.  And that starts with me and you doing what we have to do to earn and deserve the respect of others.

So what can you do?  I gave you four tips in last week’s Tuesday Tip.  Let me give you a few more today.

=> 1.  Practice humility.

As Sam Palmisano, the former CEO of IBM said, “Some of the best advice I ever received was unspoken. Over the course of my IBM career I’ve observed many CEO’s, heads of state, and others in positions of great authority. I’ve noticed that some of the most effective leaders don’t make themselves the center of attention.” They’re humble.

And it’s not all that difficult to be humble or practice humility. All you have to do is realize that every person you meet is better than you are at something. So it makes no sense to carry around a sense of pride or arrogance. Indeed, as the ancient text warns us, pride comes right before the fall. Be humble or you will stumble.

Ted Williams, the great baseball player, had to learn humility the hard way. As Fay Vincent writes in The Last Commissioner, one time Ted registered in a Florida hotel under the name of Al Forrester. The clerk recognized him and asked, “Are you really Al Forrester? You look just like Ted Williams.”

Ted responded, “Who is Ted Williams?” The clerk continued, “He was one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. Are you sure you are not Ted?”

Ted responded again, “I don’t follow baseball. The game is too slow. I really don’t know who he is.” They continued speaking about baseball until Ted excused himself. The clerk called out, “I guess you’re not Mr. Williams as you are a very nice person, and he is a pain in the neck.”

The practice of humility is refusing to act like a big shot.

Iain Clark, the Head of Services for Aegon, shared his humility when he wrote, “Your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program is unlike any other program I’ve ever attended.  Previously, no matter how good the course might have been, and despite my good intentions to get back to the material and use it later, ‘later’ never came.”

Iain continued, “One of the major reasons your Journey works is your reinforcement program.  You kept in touch with us.  You kept on sending us reinforcements every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday … which made it so much easier for me to put into practice what I learned at the Journey.  Brilliant!  As a result, I’m starting to win the battle of being focused only on work … to the detriment of everything else in my life.  I’m getting some much needed work-life balance.”

(F.Y.I.  If you register for either one of my fall 2018 Journey programs by August 31, 2018, you save $500.)

To get more respect from others, practice humility.

Will Rogers, the American humorist, talked about what happens to people who don’t practice humility. As he put it, “After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”

You also earn the respect of others when you…

=> 2. Ask for forgiveness. 

That’s right.  Ask for forgiveness when you mess it up.

I remember one high school principal who made a serious mistake, and everyone in the school knew he made a serious mistake. He got on the intercom and apologized to every student … even though he was concerned about losing their respect as a result of his mistake and his apology.

On the contrary, he became the most popular and respected high school principal in the district. Months afterwards, students came up to him and said they wished they had a father like him, as their fathers couldn’t ever admit they were wrong.

When you make a mistake that harms other people, don’t delay in picking up that phone, scheduling that meeting, or writing that letter to apologize and ask for forgiveness. No matter what they do with your apology, you need to do it.

=> 3. Be generous.

No one is ever respected for what she receives. A person is only honored for what she gives.

Such was the case with the businessman Andrew Carnegie. After he died, they found a note he had written in his early 20’s, saying he wanted to spend the first half of his life accumulating as much money as he could and spend the second half giving it all away. And that’s what he did. During his live he accumulated a $450 million fortune and gave it all away.

The only problem with that approach is no one is guaranteed the second half of life. So practice generosity now … in the present … and in the future … if you want to earn the respect of others.

The effect you have on others can be enormous.  I saw it happen just last week.  The man ahead of me ordered a $4.00 cup of coffee and gave the clerk a $20 bill.  When she handed him his $16.00 of change, he said, “Keep it.  It’s for you.”

The young lady was stunned. She said, “Sir, I don’t think you understand.  The coffee was only $4.00 and that would be a $16.00 tip.”

The very generous customer said, “I do understand.  I think there must be something you would like to do with the extra money.  Enjoy.”  He walked away and she started crying.  He had touched her heart in a deep and unexpected way.

As 19th century historian Charles Kendall Adams noted, “No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.”

In other words, it’s your generosity above and beyond the bare minimum that earns the respect of others.   And that’s true for your work life as well as your personal life.

Carman Nicola, a manager from Lloyds TSB Bank, found great power in being generous with his family, sharing what he learned.  He says, “Quite simply, your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary program is POWERFUL.  It helped me set and achieve my goals, and it helped me become a person I am proud to be and person my family respects.  Of course, it’s a process, but it’s working for me.  So I shared your techniques with my family, and they are amazed at how easy it is to achieve their dreams … using your techniques. Thank you again and again.”

(F.Y.I.  If you register for either one of my fall 2018 Journey programs by August 31, 2018, you save $500.)

There’s an old saying that “love makes the world go round.”  The same thing could be said for respect.

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 948 – The Respect Deficit and how to fix it