Milwaukee Biz Blog: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Everyone deserves it

What you want and what you need is some respect. This is one thing my parents instilled in me at a very young age. And, proudly, it is something that my own children demonstrate each day by showing respect to others, while also respecting themselves. But as a society at large, and within our own Milwaukee community, I sense the true meaning of this word has been forgotten.

Aretha Franklin belted out Otis Redding’s popular song “Respect” in 1967. Now, 50 years later, I believe it’s critical that we all take a moment to remind ourselves of the song’s message – that everyone deserves respect.

The definition of respect that I like most includes: 1) how you feel about someone, and 2) how you treat him/her. However, I take it one step further and add, how one feels about him or herself. In other words, self-respect. It is very possible that a lack of self-respect is contributing to the demise of treating others respectfully.

Let me first discuss how one treats others. We live in a diverse nation made up of many different cultures, languages, races, and backgrounds. That kind of variety can make all our lives a lot more interesting, but only if we get along with each other. The divisiveness that seems to be overtaking America is contributing to the deterioration of respect – and it seems few are willing to thoughtfully understand those with a different viewpoint. The Golden Rule has always been to treat others as you would like to be treated.

Self-respect is an intangible that is far too important to be overlooked. A person with self-respect simply likes him or herself and others are drawn to this healthy measure of personal pride. They have a relaxed confidence, clear understanding of their own abilities, and keen self-awareness. I often compliment individuals who appear “comfortable in their own skin.” Although all may not agree, I personally believe that you cannot treat others respectfully until you first respect yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt has been credited with suggesting that, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Perhaps it is only when individuals are encouraged to stop feeling badly about themselves will the civility of our nation and community return.

One way to help an individual to become more self-aware and improve his/her respect quotient is to ask these three questions:

1. What behavior causes some to have little or no respect for you?

2. What behavior reinforces what people admire about you?

3. What could you change that will increase the likelihood that you will be better regarded?

One final thought. The same rules of respect hold true for companies and brands. Customers trust companies that they feel understand them. They respect brands and companies that they believe respect them in return. Ask yourself, do customers respect your company?

If you hesitated in answering, then perhaps asking the same three questions above could raise your respect quotient.

Dave Wendland is vice president of strategic relations for Waukesha-based Hamacher Resource Group Inc.

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