Respect is one of the most important words in the dictionary.

It never ceases to amaze me how many times a simple act of respect is remembered, even years afterward. People may not remember exactly what you said to them but they will remember how you made them feel. They will remember if they felt respected.

I received a call one afternoon from a woman who had tracked me down to inform me that she still remembered the day I had visited her school and connected with the students and staff.

“You made everyone feel like your visit was the most important thing you had to do that day,” she said. Hmmm, that’s what a good contact hitter is supposed to do.

I remembered the visit to the school but was unclear why she had chosen to contact me five years after the event. She told me she had just recently thought about how different that experience had been compared to so many others she had witnessed before and since.

“You respected everyone involved and recognized how important that day was to our children,” she said. Wow! Five years had passed but the way she felt about the visit was as strong as it had been the day of the event. What a humbling conversation. Do we ever really know how much we impact people when we connect with them?

When you are respectful, everyone – team members, customers, co-workers – all see how you treat people. If you show respect for someone, others will assume that they, too, will be treated similarly.

Even if you do not agree with someone on a particular issue, you can still be part of a positive environment if you are respectful. Being positive does not mean everyone has to agree all of the time. In fact, respect has nothing to do with agreeing. It has everything to do with whether people feel or think that their opinions are valued, even when those opinions are contrary to someone else.

If you take the time to look at another person’s point of view and not just your own, you are showing them respect. Instead of instantly dismissing or challenging someone’s different point of view, try to understand and appreciate it and explore how you might bridge your differences.

In so many organizations, people might respect their managers but then look down on anyone they perceive as being in a lower position. If that attitude is allowed to manifest, there is little hope of creating or maintaining a positive culture. Every person should be valued for his or her ideas and talents and respected for all contributions.

Being respectful of people is a full-time practice, including when they are not even in the room. How you talk about someone who is not present is a clear indication to everyone listening of how you operate, and a strong indicator of how they, too, will be respected by you; or not! All the people I admire treat those around them with respect.

John Hindle, The Contact Hitter


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