Respect a Key Secret to Workplace Harmony

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

I can hear my father now.
Reminding me for the umpteenth time as I sat reading my books, that if wanted to get along with people in this world, I had better make sure that I treat them politely and courteously. He told me that it was the secret ingredient to a successful life.
And then he added, “Yes, you are going to do this even in those moments when that would be the last thing you actually wanted to do.”
I don’t mind telling you that I struggle with this from time to time, this notion of being respectful to those who are disrespectful to me. A while ago I saw a T-shirt with a quote on it by Malcolm X that read “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone. But if someone puts a hand on you, send him to the cemetery!”
And 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.

Not Always Easy

I have been fortunate enough to be delivering 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 knowledge, skills and enthusiasm, I get to spend 3 hours with them chatting about the importance of demonstrating respect, regardless of which it is they are dealing with. 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 whom I had most recently spoken to. The email contained a link to the class participant’s feedback of my session and when I read through the comments, I could feel my dad patting me on the back and saying, “I told you so Phil”

The Survey Says…

  • 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 all of the police departments represented in the class.
  • 100% of the students were satisfied with the usefulness of the material presented.

There were a number of very positive comments but my personal favorite was this one “Phil Eastwood was the perfect person to deliver the content!”
They always say that words are cheap but it is your actions which tell the whole story. It is very easy to say that you are respectful to other people, but is that the person who people experience you as? I have wondered occasionally…especially in those rare moments when I thought of that Malcolm X t-shirt quote!
So here I was, getting some affirmation from total strangers, that maybe I had taken my dad seriously and found that the secret ingredient to life really is RESPECT.
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!