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How to Earn the Respect of Others

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

Are you getting all the respect you want, need and deserve? If you’re like most people, your answer is probably no.

Just the other day one of my clients asked me why she seldom, if ever, feels respected at work or at home. I replied that I would be glad to answer her question, but first I wanted to ask her a question: “What was she doing to earn the respect of others?” She couldn’t answer the question.

And if I asked you the same question face-to-face, would you be able to answer the respect question quickly, clearly, and specifically? I would hope so. But for most people, the answer would be a dismal no. And our country, our media, our workplaces, and our families desperately need more respect than at any time I can remember.

To get more respect from others, start with the tips I outline below...

►1. Never minimize the importance of respect.

It is not some soft, touchy-feely concept that has little or no impact on the strength of your business or the duration of your relationship. Indeed, the amount of respect others have for your business and product may be the very thing that builds your business or kills it off. And the amount of respect your partner has for you is the most reliable predictor of whether or not your relationship will last or die.

►2. Understand the proper meaning of respect.

Some people think respect is all about “making a name for yourself.”

And it’s not a bad definition. After all, having a good name is a key component in effective leadership and brilliant customer service.

But it’s an insufficient definition because there are lots of "to make a name for yourself." You can get in the Guinness World Record by swallowing the most goldfish in an hour, wearing the most T-shirts at one time, or dangling the most weight from your extended tongue. Or you can join a protest movement of some sort, even though you may not be able to say exactly what you’re protesting. You see examples of that every night on the evening news.

You want to do more than simply "make a name for yourself." You want it to be the right kind of name. Even the Bible says having the right kind of name is more valuable than material riches.

I agree. So what does it mean to have the right kind of name? Or to use my terminology, what is the proper definition of respect?

It boils down to a simple formula: REPUTATION + CHARACTER = RESPECT.

You earn the respect of others when your public reputation and private character are above reproach. And you've got to have both.

If you only focus on your reputation, you'll get sidetracked. You'll spend too much time on image, popularity and becoming well known. And you’ll spend too little time on doing what is right.

If you only focus on character, you may be a really nice person that gets stepped on or ignored all too often. If you only focus on the character of your company and your admirable mission statement on the wall, nobody will know you exist. And you may not stay in business very long.

To earn the RESPECT of others...

►3. Tell the truth.

Respect starts with truth telling ... even when it's not easy or convenient. If you do anything less than that, you damage your credibility and minimize the respect others give to you.

You see, it’s all too easy in your mind to rationalize little white lies or exaggerations of what really happened.

Other people can’t do that, however. They never know when a lie is so small that it’s okay and when a lie is so big that it’s wrong. So they conclude all lies count and every lie you tell decreases their respect for you.

►4. Do what’s right.

And life will give you plenty of chances to do this every day.

For example, coming to work on time is late. It’s not right if you punch the clock to start working at 8:00 a.m., but then you take 10 minutes to straighten your desk, get a cup of coffee, or greet a few coworkers.

It’s not right if the clerk at the store gives you too much change, but you figure it’s no big deal. No, that’s not your money and it’s not right to keep it. The right thing is to walk back into the store and give them what is theirs.

A while ago, William Clay Ford, Jr., the chief executive at the Ford Motor Company, showed what it was like to do the right thing. When the Ford Motor stock was downgraded, when there was a fall in prices and revenues, William told company shareholders at their annual meeting that he would not accept any compensation from the company until their profits improved.

Usually we read just the opposite. All too often, as a company falls on hard times or goes into bankruptcy, the executives receive huge bonuses while the rest of the employees lose jobs, benefits and pensions. This is blatant audacious disrespect!!!

Not William. He did what was right. He was willing to step up and accept responsibility for all his actions, poor decisions, and the disappointing results.

“There is simply no way you can have self-esteem, integrity, or peace of mind if you profess one set of values but live another.” ~ Alan Zimmerman

As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success, Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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