Michael Irvin started a conversation a few days ago in one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to. Can respect be demanded or must it be earned? There were a number of really good points made along the way, but in reading the thread it occurred to me that this either/or thinking was keeping the discussion too narrowly confined.
I think perhaps we need to add a third “bucket” to this conversation.
To DEMAND respect has too much of a “gimme” connotation to it; sounds a little despotic. If you demand from people, they eventually get resentful. This isn’t helpful.
To EARN respect is to acquire it through hard work and experience. This is certainly foundational, but perhaps still just shy of the mark we want to hit personally and professionally. Just because you’ve put in time in the trenches doesn’t mean you got it right, nor does it mean that people will give you respect for it even if you did.
Let’s COMMAND respect; deserve and receive as due. Be honest. Be genuine. Be true to yourself and your principles. Do your homework. Push forward for the greater good. The people that matter are the ones that will respect you for it; the ones that don’t respect this don’t matter.
Respect is kind of like applause. You can hold up the “applaud” sign to your audience when you want them to clap; hopefully they’ll play along. You can execute a technically perfect performance for the audience and get some legitimate appreciative noise. Or you can say to hell with the audience and throw yourself wholeheartedly into your work for the personal joy and sense of accomplishment it provides YOU — and maybe your audience will get caught up in the moment with you. And just maybe they’ll give you a standing ovation for digging that deep.
Go for the ovation.