Business RespectWhat does respect really mean in the realm of business?  I’ve always heard that to get respect, you first have to give it.  I’ve also heard that respect isn’t given, it’s earned.  But it seems like the general masses has a fluctuating opinion on how to earn, give and keep respect.  Such a simple notion with such a heavy weight.  Before contracts and legalities, agreements and mediators, respect was keeping one’s word, one’s promise to another or to another party.  It held validation as long as the oral contract was intact.  But what does respect mean to the hundreds of thousands of business men and women brokering deals, entering into partnerships and setting up shop today?  Who earns it, who keeps it and who says how it’s divided?

I’m not an eavesdropper by any means.  I don’t listen or try to listen in on other people’s conversations.  But I happened to be in the presence of four young men who were trying to work out what seemed to be dissolution of a former agreement, a business deal gone south.  And as cordial as they were trying to be with one another, there was no masking the obvious tension.  As each of the two parties found fault with the other, the conversation escalated from civil to accusatory to hostile.  Although profane words were tossed around in every other sentence, the one word that burned my ears during their heated argument was “respect”.  One of the young men said to another (forgive me, I’m going to paraphrase here)  

Don’t come here and disrespect me!  I didn’t respect you.  If you want me to respect you, you gotta respect me!

I thought it was strange that respect was now both optional and mandatory.  How someone could work with others, call them partners and not respect them was beyond me.  Or perhaps, not know them well enough to respect them, but enough to bind them a business deal.   What is respect when you’re conducting business with a client, a customer, a colleague, an investor, or a partner?  Does it mean the ability to freely disagree?  To be at odds?  Sharing similar drives for success and profit gain?   Constructively putting the interest of the company first?  Destructively looking at for your own selfish interest?

How often, if ever, do we exercise respect in our business relationships and transactions?  Do we remember that every dollar someone spends with us keeps the doors open?  Do we remember every hour someone spends with us sharing their thoughts, time and energy progresses the growth of the business?  How important of a role should and does respect play in our businesses and why is it so difficult for us to get and give respect?

{photo credit: pinkblue via freedigitalphotos.com}

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