Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin spelled the letters R-E-S-P-E-C-T and set them to music. I'll write D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T and place into words. Here follow 5 reasons why people may not respect who you are, what you do, and how you behave. Add your own gripe to the list. We could probably write a book.
1. You're a poor follower. Barnes & Noble can showcase rows of books on effective leadership, many of which can be currently found on the New York Times best-seller list. But frankly, people might respect you more if you'd occasionally follow. Perhaps it's because you don't know what you're talking about (expert power). Perhaps it's because you're not officially in the role (legitimate power). Perhaps it's because people just don't admire or respect you (referent power). Allow the better-equipped person to take the helm occasionally. A ship's captain is important. But without the crew, it's not sailing anywhere long, assuming it even leaves port.
2. You lack follow-through. Your word cannot be trusted. I'm amazed at the amount of people representing respected companies who (1) tell me they're sorry about the problem I'm encountering with their product or service, (2) assure me they'll attend to the issue within the hour, and (3) promise me a follow-through phone call relaying the situation's been resolved.
One week later and no phone call. One month later, product or service still problematic and there's no resolution to the problem that's already consumed hours of my time. I'm now certain to record customer service representative names and/or identification numbers and wait for their follow-through. If and when they don't deliver, I write letters to their senior staff with accurate addresses found on the Internet. If I were the company CEO, I'd want to know which employees aren't to be trusted. To me, follow-through is an integrity and work ethic issue.
3. You never apologize. When I was younger (read: foolish), I viewed apologies as signs of weakness. Now older (read: wiser), I say I'm sorry as needed. The great equalizer of humanity, people make mistakes. I've often wondered how often other etiquette/image speakers and geographical "Miss Manners" fumble. Perhaps magical exemplars of perfect etiquette and protocol exist; regretfully, I'm not one of them. What I can proudly say, however, is that I don't fear offering an apology that's warranted.
I had a maintenance teeth cleaning about a year ago and was told by office staff there was no co-payment. Fair enough. I then received repeat invoices from their billing department seeking payment. Seeking clarification, I called the dental office and was emphatically told no payment was required.
Backstory: Bad day triggered bad mood, compounded by yet another invoice from the billing office. I called billing with war on my mind. I spoke louder than was necessary, interrupted any attempt at response, and yes, psychologically felt a temporary sense of victory when I angrily ended the call.
But then, shameful guilt and immediate remorse. I reflected that the woman who took my call was quite possibly someone's mother or wife and was, just like me, working to make a living. I called right back, calmly explained the original situation, added that my bad day had been the trigger for my behavior, and asked her forgiveness for speaking in such an obnoxious manner. Did I believe I had a right to be angry? Yes. Did I have a right to rant when she was simply the unfortunate soul who happened to answer the phone the moment I called? No.
How many times do people unfairly receive a verbal onslaught only to then hear a follow-up apology? Not as frequently as should be offered, I'd venture. Ashamed of my behavior, I made amends. Not surprisingly, I felt better afterwards. Cleansed. I felt like the world was, weirdly enough, once again in balance. Also knew God was proud of me, and there's value right there.
Those who know me reading this post may be surprised by my disclosure. Chances are good to excellent my encounters with you have been respectful and kind. But like you, I falter. And when this happens, I do the right thing and say I'm sorry, I was wrong, and it won't happen again.
Important life lesson from a simple communication textbook? "Communication is Irreversible." Once you say it, write it, text it, post it, it's out there. You're then in damage control mode and living a life in that constant state cannot be pleasant.
4. You disrespect people's time. If you're the type of person who perpetually arrives late or keeps appointments waiting, your behavior smacks of arrogance and entitlement. These types of people think rules don't apply to them and assume their tardiness is acceptable because (1) no one's ever held them accountable or (2) they're somehow inherently "special". The simple truth is you're not. Honor time by arriving on time, greeting on time, and leaving on time. New hire or company CEO, understand that everyone is busy and can't be held hostage while you saunter down the hallway. I understand some may defend the CEO, maintaining their schedules demand time flexibility. Sorry. You may run a multi-million dollar company, but you know what? I have my own job responsibilities and I can't attend to them if I'm stuck waiting for you. Yes, you make more money than me, but our time is commensurate in value.
5. You behave like a Bridezilla. This show shocks and saddens me. I've watched enough episodes to form an opinion, but not enough to fill the company coffers of We TV. What's worse? The physical and mental abuse? The vulgar language? The unpredictable temper tantrums? The seething rage that raises my own blood pressure just by watching? The sad realization that undeserving population groups (the bullies, the entitled, & the narcissists) even get air time?
Unfortunately, Bridezillas exist in workplaces and even in our own families. These people suck the energy out of even joyous occasions, make mountains out of molehills, and inject most situations with venom and misery. People with this amount of psychological rage require professional help. A telling cue that you may be the contextual Bridezilla is people's aversion to your own company. In the meantime, I deliberately shun the Bridezilla's toxicity. Buzz off, Bridezillas. Uh oh. I'm starting to sound like one.
Reader, I apologize. Please forgive.
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Email LisaMarie: firstname.lastname@example.org (subject line of "Psychology Today")