Cast a Vote for Respect: 10 Tips on Gaining Respect from Peers

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With election day taking place this month, it’s important to remember that the right to vote is one of the most important privileges of being a citizen of the United States.  As Chinese immigrants, my parents treasured this right and in our home, election day was a time to celebrate our freedom to choose our elected officials.

Voting for members of government is only one kind of “voting.”  Think of how we use the word election; every time we choose to do one thing over another we are “electing” to do it.  In my book Fearless Living: Life Changing Values for Breakthrough Success, one of the values I discuss is respect and an important part of respect is accepting the differences of others.

Believe it or not, respect is actually an emotion: a positive feeling of esteem or admiration that you have toward others.  It’s also something that you can elect to offer or choose not to.  Usually, people decide to give their respect to others based on their personal impressions.  Whether it’s a presentation, a visual appearance – or even a leap of faith – why someone gets our respect is very subjective.

One of the pitfalls of basing whether to give or withhold respect based on our own opinions, is that sometimes those opinions may be based on false impressions or misconceptions about the person.  Therefore, rather than solely rely on first impressions, it’s important to foster personal and professional relationships that promote a greater understanding, and engender respect for the individual.

Respect is also at the core of collaboration.  When collaborating with others, giving respect results in getting respect, each of which enhance personal and professional relationships.  Keep an open mind that allows first impressions to be just the first step on the path to validating that an individual is worthy of respect.

Tolerance also goes hand-in-hand with respect. While the notion of “tolerance” implies a difference of some kind – opinion, culture, lifestyle or upbringing – understanding and appreciating differences is key to respect.  By leaving aside the many colors of emotion, finding similarities among differences leads not only to tolerance, but to mutual respect. 

 
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The publication Psychology Today references a number of studies showing that people treat others differently based on “certain external trappings—skin color, clothing, height, neighborhood, type of car driven, wealth, social acceptance of others (popularity), and other external components like job status and rank.”  Embracing and respecting all aspects of this diversity is what drives mutual respect.

There’s a certain amount of fear involved in giving respect, as there is uncertainty to whether a person is actually deserving of it.  Nobody wants to be hurt by making the mistake of putting trust in the “wrong” person.  However, pushing past that fear drives relationships that celebrate diversity and help develop inner strength and personal fulfillment in expanded networks in business, friendships and the community.

Respect can be thought of as a code of conduct that helps avoid conflicts. There are challenges to giving respect, but there’s a process to achieving it that resolves around tolerance, understanding and celebrating diversity. 

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Understand what makes each individual unique and focus on what they bring in terms of skills and knowledge.

2. Be the first to give respect in order to gain respect – this is especially helpful in new situations.

3. Appreciate what makes you unique to help you recognize and embrace what is special and unique about others.

4. Be aware of how different mindsets contribute to achieving knowledge and broadening opinions.

5. Recognize that every individual has value and how they can have a positive impact on the relationship.

6. Celebrate the contributions of others and ways they have expanded personal and professional development and growth.

 
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In the workplace, respect is essential to relationship building, team work and success.  According to a recent Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement survey, “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” was one of the main factors driving job satisfaction.

The flip side of giving respect is getting respect – something everyone craves. Developing and growing personally will help gain the respect of others.  People are not powerless in attracting respect and here are a few helpful guidelines:

 

1.     Be empathetic towards others

2.     Don’t take things personally

3.     Be aware how you may be contributing to conflict

4.     Try creative approaches to problem-solving

5.     Constantly strive to learn new things

6.     Be confident of what you bring to the table.

7.     Listen carefully to what others are saying, and how they are saying it

8.     Communicate clearly and unemotionally

9.     Be patient when conflicts arise and attempt to understand and accept opposing views others’ views

10.  Look for “sameness” not differences in forging new personal and professional relationships

 

Don’t forget to go to the polls and vote on Election Day.  And remember, every day of the year is another opportunity to cast a vote for respect!

 
 
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