Respect is not kissing up

Aretha FranklinRespect. The word gets used a great deal but do people ‘get’ it?

It’s not just an Aretha Franklin song or a hot topic issue now because of “donglegate” – I mean, who cares about forking repos? Respect is a must in any company, social situation, or everyday interaction. I haven’t given it much thought until recently because I always saw it as a given in my world.  But maybe I’m not like everyone else.

Sir and ma’am

I am a pretty traditional guy when it comes to  respect and courtesy. I still refer to people as “Mister _____” and “Misses _____” when first meeting them and it is not out of some formal code that I live by – it is simply because I think they deserve my respect upon first handshake. It doesn’t stop there…in everyday conversation I still say sir and ma’am, no matter your age.

I recognize that I’m one of a small few. I don’t do it because I think it has to be given first to be received. I also don’t give it to gain anything in return. I certainly don’t do it to kiss up.

I genuinely feel that it is the right thing to do in any circumstance. It’s a ‘no-lose’ proposition that gets chuckles sometimes but just as often, people adapt and stop telling me, “Kevin, call me Jim,” when they realize I’m not showing respect for personal benefit. It’s just what I do.

Trickle down theory

In a meeting today the topic of respect came up. It was just a very brief conversation but I was inspired by the talk. I was reaffirmed how great the people are that I work under and report to everyday. Luckily for me I work for respectful people who try to make everyone feel part of the team and have a voice.

After the meeting my mind started to wander and I created all of these hypothetical situations of different work environments. I imagine some are more hostile than others, which made me think about the way respect is structured in the workforce. Much like the ladders in a company’s hierarchy, people think about getting respect from the top down hoping some sort of ‘voodoo economics’ of power will trickle down to them.


It doesn’t work like that.

Impressing and respecting just the ‘right people’ means you always know or can predict where each person falls. But what about the person who gets promoted that you didn’t treat so well in the past? How’s that going to work out? Do you think changing gears and treating them better will be appreciated or scorned? Exactly.

Have the right goal, the rest will follow

People are too often overly concerned with moving forward and they forget about much larger issues at stake, like doing what’s best for the company.  Do not respect people above you because you want something out of them and do not respect people below, or equal to you simply because they could be your boss later. Respect is not a zero sum game that should be distributed to those in charge. Respect people because you are all working toward a common goal. The success of the company will lead to your raise and the recognition you deserve.



Categories: Leadership

Author:Kevin Jordan

Kevin graduated from Stanford in three years and is a contributing writer for The TIBCO Blog. Graduating from a engineering-focused university, Kevin quickly developed a passion for technology and its role in business. Still continuing some of his other creative ventures as well, he enjoys doing stand-up comedy and professional acting. Appearing on the Disney Channel and performing on stages from Las Vegas to the Bahamas inspires him to continue entertaining through written word, on comedy club stages, and on television screens. Bridging his creative ambitions and technical curiosity creates the balance he strives for.

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