I want you to think of a leader you trust, but don’t respect. I’m sure no one comes to mind?
It’s because the two go together.
Now what is Respect? Is it being open-minded? Having tolerance?
Tolerance is easy because it’s a passive process. And because our brains take up so much of our energy, they prefer tolerance because it’s easy. And in such a diverse environment, we can’t just stick to tolerance, we have to spend time and energy to learn how to deal with people.
Respect on the other hand, is an active process:
“Respect is an active process of non-judgmentally engaging people from all backgrounds. To increase awareness and effectiveness in a manner that esteems both myself and those with whom I interact.”
– Paul Meshanko
Effectiveness is increased because the more we interact, the more we become predictable. This leads to trust among individuals and teams and higher productivity levels.
I’m sure we can say that we all enjoy being respected for our abilities, qualities and achievements. Now why is that? Why are we drawn to respect?
Firstly, we humans believe in social justice: We believe that we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Secondly, this is not only a “feel good” concept, but a biological concept, too.
When we are treated with respect, our prefrontal cortexes “free up”.
This is the part of the brain that is responsible for complex thinking, problem solving, prioritizing and collaboration with others.
When treated with disrespect, we go into “fight or flight” mode and this part of our brains go silent. So basically: By showing disrespect, we are damaging and mismanaging our human assets.
The effects of disrespecting others will be low engagement from employees (work becomes a transaction), higher absenteeism, low trust relationships which results in info not being shared broadly and your employees will become less resilient and less productive.
I know my song reference in the title still has the words by Otis Redding ringing in your head. Add it to your playlist and every time it plays, remember that respect is the answer to a thriving “inclusive workplace” with people from different backgrounds, ages, cultures and values, which is built on trust and cohesion.
And when we go out of our way to let employees know that they are respected, they are capable of doing great things!