Good Morning, Dad!
I have children, or better yet, I have young adults. That doesn’t win me any awards or earn me a PHD. I am the first to admit that I haven’t always done right by my children. Sometimes, I was too firm when nice would have been more effective. Sometimes, the complete opposite.
I can be quick to judge and slow to forgive and sometimes, no, often, I wish I could take my words back and restore the hurt that I caused a tender heart, words I can never get back. I will admit though, I have stayed in a Holiday Inn Express before, so I am quite qualified to further comment on this subject matter.
I had a bad morning with one of my kids today. It’s a Saturday and it’s just not appropriate to wake Mom at 6:15 AM to ask her a question. I was already up because I’m stupid enough to allow Sherlock our cat to roam the house and demand to eat or go outside to do his duty at 5:30 AM every day. He flicks me on the lower lip with his sharp claw and how do they know to do this and why do I still think that it’s cute? Anyway, Sherlock runs the house.
My daughter completely ignored me this morning, like every morning, and it bothered me big time. In all her years, she has rarely, if ever, greeted me with a “Good morning, Dad.” I, on the other hand, never miss an opportunity to respect her with a kind and endearing greeting.
Do you recognize any sarcasm? I would think that the man who supplies her with a car, car insurance, a cell phone (unlimited data, but don’t tell her, she doesn’t know that), half of her college tuition, food, and free summer room and board, ought to feel the love.
I got to thinking, why is it necessary for me to have her respect, or anyone else’s respect? Am I so shallow that I don’t feel good enough about myself to cover any shortcomings? As an engineer and not a psychologist, I had to do some study on this and Google brought me into relationship with Abram Maslow.
The basic tenant of Maslow is that our fundamental physical needs(food, water, air, safety), are easily met and can be met by many people, even strangers, successfully. Funny, in my business of lighting, safety and security are our mantras. Again, not difficult to meet (seatbelts, locks on doors, looking both ways).
Why was I so upset this morning? The next two levels of needs include how other people treat and feel about us, interpersonal relationships. I wasn’t feeling the love this morning and esteem wasn’t even in the same zip code this morning. Quite frankly, I felt empty, unappreciated, diminished, sad, very sad, and it manifested itself into anger and regret.
Now for the look in the mirror moment. Am I showing my esteem for my daughter? Is she merely reflecting how I have been feeling about her? Are my words of affirmation followed up by real, sincere actions? Besides my relationship with my daughter, in general, do I make people feel good about themselves by how I speak to them, my choice of words, my tone, etc.? What about my client and partnering relationships? And even broader, how am I perceived in the industry?
I am a stickler for respect. My kids would never in a million years not call an adult by Mr. or Mrs., followed by their last name. They have friends that call their parents by their first names. I’d never hire someone who showed even the least sign of disrespect. I think it’s a core value and a window into a person’s heart, showing its true condition. Watch the movie, Draft Day, it’s a masterpiece.
Here is a challenge to all of us. Consider some ways that we currently show disrespect, whether intentional or just bad practice, and let’s agree to change and make others feel very good about themselves.
Try these things:
• Return emails and texts promptly. If you don’t have time, at least acknowledge receipt. Seriously, it will end up saving you time and may reduce your email volume. I have clients who expect me to drop everything for them, fly on a days’ notice (very expensive), rent a car, spend the night, and provide complete engineering services in the hopes of winning a bid. Then, after I email the bid, they don’t respond. Not a thank you, not a confirmation of receipt, and often despite repeated efforts. Am I only valuable when I can help you?
• Return phone calls promptly. No explanation needed.
• Have the guts to tell someone that they didn’t get the work and you selected someone else. I had a client who despite dozens of calls, emails, and texts, finally responded after I had one of my guys drive by to see that someone else’s lights were in his garage. I called him out on it. It would have been easier if he had just said NO early on. So much wasted time and emotions.
• Don’t ask someone to help you on something if you have zero intention of following through .
• Change your mentality of seeing others as Vendors and begin to recognize them as Partners.
• Look people in the eyes when you talk with them.
• Say “good morning” and “good night” to others, especially non-executive personnel. I watched, at a major airport recently, a steady stream of staff that entered the airports office building. I saw some people completely ignore the receptionist and some greet and value her. I watched her face tell a real story of great worth and value, as well as self-doubt.
• Use kind and flattering words. Watch their posture straighten and smile broaden. Help create a 5’6” giant.
• Reward your employees with simple things like Starbucks cards or lunch.
• Say “Thank you” (liberally).
• Don’t talk about people behind their backs. You will regret it and it WILL come back to haunt you.
• Get off your damn mobile device and fully join the moment!