There is common-held wisdom which says respect is something that’s earned and not given.

It recently dawned on me how narrow and limiting such a perspective can be; even though the sentiment may be full of good intentions.

Like much in our lives and careers, nothing is quite that clean cut. Regardless of how much we want it. In a dynamic, multi-faceted, hyper-connected world it feels out-dated and open to being misused.

And what got me thinking about respect anyway?

A possible motivational speaking opportunity for people who are at the beginning of their career adventure. When the Respect-ability stakes are very different, and in the early stages of development.

Transporting myself back though the decades and thinking about a multitude of career and developmental interactions, what might help start and expand the respect conversation?

I positioned this question in my head and set off on my daily walk.

As I walked and talked (yes, out loud; no, there wasn’t anyone around 😂) it dawned on me that a slight adjustment to ‘I’m OK; You’re OK’ Grid used in Transactional Analysis and in books by Thomas Harris, could be just what was needed.

After a bit of doodling, and based on low and high respect for yourself and others, here it is…

4 quadrant Respect-Ability Grid exploring respect for self and others

The combinations are as follows:

  1. High respect for yourself + high respect for others = balanced
  2. High respect for yourself + low respect for others = closed
  3. Low respect for yourself + high respect for others = passive
  4. Low respect for yourself + low respect for others = lost

To dig deeper, let’s take a tour of the grid; exploring each combination in turn.

Exploring the respect-ability grid

1 – BALANCED (You = High + Others = High)

Balanced is where you ideally want to be; it’s your baseline. You have self-respect. You recognise that starting with a healthy amount of respect for others is a great foundation for understanding and collaboration.

The benefits to being balanced on the repect-ability front are many. You find and create better opportunitites for yourself and others. Your open-mindedness helps you stay positive even in tough times. Your curosity, respectful questioning and interest in others mean you look beyond face value to learn and understand.

Nurturing: There’s more on staying balanced later in this piece. Please scroll down to the bottom.

2 – CLOSED (You = High + Others = Low)

Closed is where you may be if you think you know everything. That no-one else’s ideas or contributions matter. You know you’re right and that’s the end of it. The word arrogant springs to mind.

It may also manifest itself as destructive rebelliousness. I’m all for questioning and challenging the status quo. In this situaton, however, you may be closed, angry and ambivalent for the pure hell of it. Even if others can help or have much to add.

Moving to balanced: Instead of immediately shutting others down or dismissing what they have to say, listen. What are they actually saying? What are the interesting nuggets? How can your ideas combine to make something even better?

3 – PASSIVE (You = Low + Others = High)

Passive is where you can be led astray or influenced by others with more perceived power than you. This may be linked, for example, to celebrity, company structure, academic prowess.

Blind faith in someone because of their position or experience combined with low respect for yourself means you may be assuming they always know best. Even when this is not the case.

Moving to balanced: Ask yourself questions about the situations you find yourself in and the choices you are making. Are you doing the right thing for you as well as others? Or does it benefit everyone else but you? You are an important part of the respect-ability equation what is that you want or need?

4 – LOST (You = Low + Others = Low)

Lost is not a good situation as you will probably feel disconnected from the world and dislike towards yourself.

Negative opinions and thoughts may skew everything that happens to you. Meaning you will see everything through a negative lens. Even when good things happen or you achieve something positive; you may add a negative spin.

Moving to balanced: In this situation it is important to speak to someone professional about how you are feeling. What you need is impartial, non-judgemental input to help you move to a position of higher respect for yourself and for others.

Staying respect-ability balanced

Staying balanced in the respect-ability zone, for me, hinges on perspective. That’s maintaining a healthy perspective of yourself and of others.

Although the specific ways you achieve this are personal to you, here are a few general ideas…

  1. Look after yourself – sleeping, eating and movement
  2. Invest in personal or professional development
  3. Actively nurture and encourage open-mindedness within yourself and others
  4. Don’t passively accept what others say
  5. Ask questions from a postion of kindness and curiosity
  6. Imagine what others may think or feel about different situations

Whatever life throws at you; wherever your career adventure takes you, having a healthy amount of respect for yourself and for others, is a baseline from which to begin and to grow.

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