All I’m asking: Just a little respect

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By Lance Minnis


Twice last week I was stood up. This happens occasionally, and in my business you can’t let it rattle you- my priorities aren’t everyone’s. The worst part is that when someone calls, distraught, insists on an immediate meeting, schedules are rearranged, and when I arrive on time and prepared — they’re just not there. After all the drama and rigmarole, they decided to be somewhere else. This isn’t an ‘oops.’ It is deciding, on purpose, to snub someone else. It shows a critical lack of respect for people.

Respect is a key issue in commerce, in education and in life. It is the backbone of social conventions, and the assumed ‘resting state’ of all business transactions. It is the basis of all professionalism, and it is ignored at an astounding rate in these days of the ‘me’ culture.

What do we want out of our ‘work’ interactions? As a business owner or manager, we want to satisfy our customers and to attract new ones. Seems simple, but not always. It can be difficult discerning HOW to satisfy customers, and sometimes the ones who are most demanding are not worth satisfying. But you hope that by keeping them satisfied, they will continue to be your customer, and to help you attract new ones.

As employees, without a stake in the business we work for, I think most of us are content to merely keep our job. This can also be more difficult than it sounds — some jobs, and some employers, are more rational than others. But it is a sure thing that employees who don’t show respect for the job, the company, and the customers, will not keep that job. Just as surely, the employer who doesn’t respect the employee — their knowledge, experience, or just the fact that they are human beings deserving of respect — will lose them. As customers, we expect respect from the places we do business with. Customers can always tell when they are being disrespected, and they can always sense when there is ‘something rotten in Denmark’ between employer and employees. But what about the respect due a business by the customer?

When there is no established relationship, it can be easy to blow off the social niceties. But these social niceties aren’t the window dressing— they are the meat.

Every single person you meet can have an impact on your life, for good or ill. How you are perceived in the world is a direct consequence of how you treat other people. And of course, how you are perceived, your reputation is what gets you that interview, that job, that appointment or that big account. The golden rule really is true: if you want people to treat you a certain way, you’d best treat others that way. Have high expectations for yourself if you intend to have them for others. Do you want people to return your calls promptly? Do the same for them. Do you want to be treated as a peer, and for others to show you the respect of your time when you contact them? Do the same for them. Do you want to be treated with respect at your work and for your opinion to matter? Then do the same.

It is tempting to ignore those calls that I know are unwanted sales calls. But every time I have a week like the last, I am reminded why it is important to answer every call and honor every appointment.

I frequently hit the same themes in this column and for good reason. As a business consultant, I see the same issues over and over again. Most of the issues that hold businesses back are people issues —respect being one of the most important. Respect everyone who calls you, everyone who walks through your door, everyone who stops you on the street. Do it for yourself, if not for common decency. You won’t know if that person could have been the single best thing to happen to you or your business in the past week unless you treat them respectfully and professionally.