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How to Be Respectful: My 4 Essential Rules

This article is the sixth in a 10-part series on the topic of overcoming career-limiting habits.

The other day on my free coaching call an attendee asked about how to handle someone who is disrespectful. I gave her advice regarding opening up communication and giving the person straight-forward “instructions” on how she wanted to be treated, and somewhere along the line it dawned on me: There are so many people out there who just don’t understand respect.

If you’re like me, this statement probably shocks you. I was raised to be respectful. My parents made a big deal out of it and now, as an adult, I truly recognize the important role it plays in my relationships and in my career. But sadly, not everyone is lucky enough to have parents like mine.

Since “disrespect” is the sixth career-limiting habit on our list, I figured now was a good time to go ahead and address this issue once and for all. Below, I’ll share the 4 rules I live by when it comes to respect. You can use these rules in both your personal and professional life. I promise, you and everyone with whom you interact will be glad you did.

1. The Golden Rule

Treat others how you want to be treated. They call it the “golden” rule because, if you do this and nothing else, you’ll be golden.

2. The “It’s A Small World” Rule

Now that you’ve got the world’s most annoying song in your head, let me clarify what I mean by “It’s a small world.” No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do for a living, the bubble you in which you exist is much, much smaller than you think. Because of this, you always want to treat everyone—clients, subordinates, and co-workers alike—as if they will one day be your boss…because they very well could be. You never know what might happen in the future. So think of every person you interact with as a potential future employer.

3. The “Hidden Value” Rule

Look for the good in everyone. You may not see it immediately, but I promise, it’s there. Believe that everyone provides some kind of value, even if it’s not abundantly clear on the surface. Trust that the person standing in front of you has redeeming qualities that, if you knew more about them, would inspire, delight and enchant you. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

4. The “Everyone Is Special” Rule

Recognize that everyone comes from a different place, and they all bring vast amounts of experience and wisdom with them. Some people are fortunate enough to be well educated. Others are not. Some people were born into money. Others worked their tails off to get it. And yet others work just as hard and will never see a dime for their efforts. The world is not fair. The deck is not evenly stacked. Luck and good fortune are not equally distributed. But everyone has something special. Everyone knows something you don’t know. Everyone is capable of doing and being someone completely different from you—and that is a worthwhile thing to respect. That’s the beauty of life. And if you can’t respect each and every person you come into contact with for that reason alone, you’re not respecting our greatest gift.

Photo Credit: Harold.lloyd (Flickr)

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4 Responses to “How to Be Respectful: My 4 Essential Rules”

  1. Janine says:

    Our organization requires a course called Ultimate Customer Service Seminar as part of our core training. This course teaches that there is actually a flaw in “The Golden Rule”. The truth is that not everyone is going to wish to be treated the way that you wish to be treated. They emphasize the importance of “The Platinum Rule”–Treat people the way they want to be treated. Just something to consider.

  2. Marianne says:

    What a great page, really nice job! I am shocked myself all the time too by the lack of understanding of basic respect and courtesy out there, so much that I have learned simply not to expect it ever. People in general seem to be much more worried about getting credit, due or undue, than doing their actual job, or giving credit to others for doing anything. They can’t just say “hey thanks for doing that” or “good job”, instead they do this passive aggressive control thing where they can “improve” upon whatever you did somehow; their way is better, they know how to do it better, their friend knows how to do it better. Anything at all except just accepting that you did this thing and you did a fine job. On that note, thanks for this well written post, I would like to share it. (Even if I already knew 99% of the info in it, you took that info and did a very nice job of articulating and presenting it in a way that brought it together, so again, thank you!)

  3. […] I respect the people on my team and appreciate their unique opinions, perspectives and ways of doing […]

  4. lizzie jeter says:

    I always admire the golden rule treat others as you want to be treated with the world around us today it’s so much violent and hatred in the world due to the inclination of Satan the devil so we have to keep praying that one day that our God will do away with this enemy that causing people to do harm to other peoples.

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