Building Bridges

Dysfunctional companies often exhibit “stovepiping” across the corporate structure. Some managers think it only happens in very large companies, but disrespectful behavior is rampant, and can be found in most companies.

Respect is one of the best tools for removal of the silo walls within an organization. It is not the only tool, but respect is the price of admission — it needs to be in your toolbox. If you expect to change the behavior of an associate, a boss, or a trading partner, you have to do it with respect.

Respect is not a “demand” item; it is a “supply” item. You can’t really “demand” respect — but you can freely supply it. Sure, there is deferential respect for title — the VP gets more respect than the clerk — but that is a superficial, first-impression respect. After a while, a horse’s petard is recognized as a horse’s petard — and earns the appropriate level of respect.

Respect is a “supply” item in any relationship. If you show respect to others they will show respect to you. There are many ways to show respect, and that respect costs nothing but thought and effort.

Which of the following email-delivered (including cc:) requests shows respect?

  • “Tim, would you please complete the attached form!”
  • “Tim, please complete the attached form and send back to all. Thanks.”

Is it respectful when in the middle of a conversation you “check out” and read your Blackberry?

Do you look the person delivering that report to your desk in the eye when you say “thank you”?

Do you look in the other person’s eyes when you shake hands?

Common sense you say? Go out for a week and conduct business with respect in mind — and then ask yourself if it is all that common.

These are little things, but they all show respect, and they get you respect in return, and you gain additional respect from the people who witness your respectful behavior.

The great thing about respect is that it scales up and it adds up.

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