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R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Here’s What it Means to Me

There’s a reason it’s called The Golden Rule, but without getting biblical on you, I’ll get ‘fatherly’ on you— my father, actually.

“Make sure that you always treat others as you want to be treated, Phil.”

I can hear him now, reminding me for the umpteenth time as I sat reading my books, that if I wanted to get along with people in this world, then I had better make sure that I treat them politely and courteously.
And then when I might give him a look that said ‘come on, dad…’ he added, “Yes, you need to do this even in those moments when that would be the last thing that you actually want to do.”
In fact, he told me that that was what the secret ingredient to a successful life is.

Years later, I don’t mind telling you I still struggle with this from time to time.

I do.
The whole notion of being respectful to those who are disrespectful to me can be quite troublesome to accept.
I even saw a T-shirt with a quote on it by Malcolm X awhile ago that seemed to read my mind: “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone. But if someone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery!”
But then something will happen, often quite out of the blue, that reminds me why it’s important that I live up to my father’s advice, and not Malcolm X’s.
Take the other day for instance…

I have been fortunate enough to deliver a workshop to police recruits at the Justice Institute of British Columbia for the last few years. The topic? Respectful Conduct in the Workplace.

The idea is that a few weeks before they graduate and head off to their respective communities to change the world with all of their new knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm, I get to spend three hours with them chatting about the importance of demonstrating respect— regardless of whom it is they are dealing with. In other words, this applies equally whether they are outside or inside the police station.
Well, the last time I was there, I received an email a few days later from the supervisor of the class. The email contained a link to the class participant’s feedback of my session (using a survey tool):
100% of the students thought that the material was relevant to recruit training and to regular patrol duties.
100% of the students thought that the material was relevant to all the police departments represented in the class.
100% of the students were satisfied with the usefulness of the material presented.
There were even a number of very positive written comments, with my personal favourite being: “Phil Eastwood was the perfect person to deliver the content!”

I could feel my dad patting me on the back and saying, “I told you so, Phil.”

They always say that words are cheap, and that it’s your actions that tell the whole story. It’s very easy to say that you are respectful to other people, but how many of us practice that every day with every person we meet? I occasionally wonder about this, especially in those rare moments when Malcolm X’s quote pops off that t-shirt and into my head…
But there I was, having taken my dad’s advice seriously and getting affirmation from total strangers, when I truly realized that the secret ingredient to life really is RESPECT.
I was in a MasterMind Group meeting just yesterday where we shared our answers to a very important question:
What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
You already know what my answer was, but our Chair Person’s answer was a nice variation, “Be nice to each other…it’s free!”
It makes me recall all the positive bumper-sticker statements that I encounter every day, but rarely take to heart. You know, the ones about the importance of being respectful, pleasant, and civil to each other (“Be the change that you want to see,“ is another favourite of mine).

Well, let me tell you, they really do work…

As I’ve mentioned in numerous posts, emotions and attitudes are infectious. You and I know that life is a whole lot easier and better when we are around a person who treats others respectfully, uses positive language, and shows up daily and consistently in a civil manner.
Laurence Sterne (an Irish-born English novelist who lived in the early 1800s) was quoted as saying, “Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”
Well, all I can say, Mr. Sterne, is that you must have known my dad!


About the Author:

Phil Eastwood is a former London Bobby who brings a thirty-five year career in policing to his role as Senior Partner of Fiore Group Training, a recognized leader in training top North American organizations. Phil is lead author of workplace training courses in respectful workplace training, workplace violence employee training, and leadership training seminars.

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