My kids don’t respect me. My boss doesn’t respect me. My employees don’t respect me.
When we make comments like these we are trying to demand respect. When we demand respect we get what we deserve… not much! Our goal is to command respect. There are two aspects to commanding respect. Both are simple. You just need to shift your thinking just a touch.
Key #1: Do you respect yourself?
I always tell my members, if you don’t respect yourself no one else will respect you. Respecting yourself is just a matter of doing what’s right for you as long as it’s not harmful to yourself or others. Let others have their opinions about what you “should” do.
How do we make sure we respect ourselves? This is actually simpler than you think. Take five minutes and write your values down on a piece of paper. Not sure what you value most? One way to figure this out is to look at your daily actions. Not the things you say you want to do or think you should do, but what you actually take action on. Those are the things you value. Another way is to look at the things you detest. You value the exact opposite.
When you respect yourself people may not agree with you, but they will respect you for your conviction to your choice of action. During the Civil War, not everyone agreed with General Robert E. Lee’s actions, but he was one of the most respected leaders by both the Confederate AND the Union Armies. He was a man of honor and character.
Key #2: Do you listen with your ears, head and heart?
What does it mean to listen with our ears? Listening with your ears means you’re not making assumptions about what’s being said. Your child says to you, “I want to go there,” as they point to the patio door. You assume “there” means outside. You sternly tell your child “no” because it’s -30 degrees outside. To the child “there” meant in front of the door so he could sit in the sun.
How do we make sure we hear the right words? By asking a simple question. “What do you mean exactly when you say… ” In the above example, it would quickly resolve the assumption, and avoid the disheartening comment.
What does it mean to listen with our head? Listening with our head means discovering the “why” behind another persons request. It means asking questions like, “Why is this important?” or “Why is this necessary?” As Stephen Covey wrote in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People we must seek to understand before being understood.
The greatest leaders and most respected people always look to understand where people are coming from. They’ve never walked a mile in their shoes so don’t assume to understand the other persons experience.
What does it mean to listen with our heart? To be able to empathize with others. You don’t have to agree with another, but empathizing with them will garner a high level of respect from that person. In turn, they will be much more likely to listen and try to understand where you are coming from. As Thoreau once said, “It’s never to late to give up on prejudices.”
This simple question for listening with your heart, “What if our roles were reversed?” Commanding respect is about commanding your own thoughts and emotions.
Respecting yourself IS the path to commanding respect.
Be sure to teach your children this valuable lesson. As you do you will see the areas you need to work on. As we teach we grow!