When Aretha Franklin (and before her Otis Redding) sang about respect, they weren’t asking to be loved, or even liked. They were asking their mate to show them respect, ‘at least a little bit,’ when they came home. After all, while you were out doing whatever it is that you do, I was home keeping the fires burning. I’m tired, I have been working, show me a little respect, not love, or even affection.

When a couple of employees almost came to blows, their manager took them aside and told them:

“If you want to go into the parking lot and have it out, so be it. But when you are in the office, you will respect each other. You are not required to like each other. But you will begin to understand the relevance of each other’s work, and respect that.”

One of those staff members told me later that she had never considered respecting. She thought that the important thing was being ‘liked.’ She told me that it took her a considerable amount of time to move from ‘liking’ to ‘respecting.”

Respect means that you accept somebody for who they are, even when they’re different from you or you don’t agree with them. Respect in your relationships builds feelings of trust, safety, and well being. Respect doesn’t have to come naturally – it is something you learn.

Liking someone means that you are happy being with that person.

Do we work too hard to be liked? In the workplace, is it necessary to be liked, to be happy to be around? If we aren’t happy being around someone, does that mean we can’t work with them. Even if we don’t ‘like’ being around someone, cannot we still respect them for who they are. How many times have you heard something like: ‘I wouldn’t want to go out drinking with that guy, but he is one of the best surgeons I have ever met.’

I sometimes wonder if we don’t spend too much time being concerned if we are “liked” and not enough time accepting the world as it is. Do we concern ourselves too much with the negatives of a person’s personality, without balancing the good they bring to whatever we are trying to accomplish?

There will always be people who we simply don’t like, people we aren’t happy being with. My suggestion is that we  keep away from them. However if you are thrown into the workplace with them, is it not reasonable to begin to build respect and through that a feeling of trust, safety and well being.

Why not give them R.E.S.P.E.C.T, at least ‘a little bit.’


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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