April 24, 2009
Give it and earn it. You must demonstrate judgment, opinions, and skills that are worthy of respect.

by Fran Pangakis

Not a day goes by that I don't hear from team members and doctors that they want to be respected. Everyone wants it, everyone needs it, but not everyone gets it or gives it.

There are two types of respect. First, is basic human respect — the kind you're entitled to merely by being born. Everyone deserves it equally because through birth everyone is equal — we're all living, breathing human beings.

This type of respect is based on the fact that other people's needs, hopes, rights, dreams, ideas, and inherent worth are just as important and valuable as your own. And it's demonstrated through specific behaviors such as:

• Treating everyone with dignity, courtesy, and equality
• Appreciating "different" backgrounds, cultures, and ideas and not expecting everyone to be just like you
• Avoiding ethnic and sexually oriented references and "humor"
• Talking with people and not at them or about them

The first kind of respect is purely and simply an entitlement; one that comes with our human skin, regardless of its color or condition. We deserve it.

The second kind of respect is the kind you earn by your actions. This kind is different from the first because it's based on who you are (the quality of your character), rather than what you are (a human being). It comes from behavior rather than mere birth. And since not everyone exhibits the same behavior and character, not everyone gets the same amount of this respect.

Do you want your judgment, opinions, and skills respected? Then you must demonstrate judgment, opinions, and skills that are worthy of respect. Do you want to be respected for dependability? You earn that respect by being consistently dependable. Do you feel it's important to be trusted? Trust must be earned by making deposits of trust into your teammates' emotional trust accounts. Do you need the respect of your team in order to be an effective leader? The response is the same — you must earn it by being a person of integrity.

Finally, if you want to find out what respect means to others, take time to ask everyone on your team and in your life what respect means to them. Each of us grew up in different environments, different cultures, and with different belief systems, so we shouldn't assume that respect is defined by each person the same way. Be curious, listen, ask more questions, and continue the process until you've earned the right to influence others and therefore can get and give respect.

"R. E. S. P. E. C. T."

As the song goes, "R.E.S.P.E.C.T, find out what it means to me."

Recognize the inherent worth of all human beings

Eliminate derogatory words and phrases from your vocabulary

Speakwith people — not at them ... or about them

Practice empathy. Walk awhile in others' shoes

Earn the respect of your coworkers through your behaviors

Consider other's feelings before speaking and acting

Treat everyone with dignity

Fran Pangakis is a certified training and development professional with extensive skills in facilitation, communications, training, coaching and professional development. One area of expertise is working with leaders and their teams by using performance management assessments to unlock talent by tapping into Emotional Intelligence factors and behavioral traits. She is a certified consultant with the human resource and personnel policy firm Bent Ericksen & Associates, as well as being their lead trainer for Integrated Performance Management (IPM). IPM is a state of the art tool that is used for hiring, team building, leadership development and employee motivation. Fran also coaches other consultants on how to achieve their goals and "make the impossible possible" and is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. Visit or email [email protected].