Remember the Aretha Franklin song “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”?
How many of us want to be respected? Raise your hand.  

Okay, 98% of you. The other 2% are completely enlightened, free of others’ opinions and currently sitting under the Bodhi Tree.  

The respect we receive from others shapes our sense of identity and self-esteem. And the respect we seek knows no bounds — we look for it from our romantic partners, bosses, associates, colleagues and even doctors who keep us waiting. (Is there a class in med school on that? If so, my doctors graduated from that class summa cum laude.)  

While most of us want to be respected, we don’t actually spend much time thinking about respect, and you can’t fully control how it comes to you. As a colleague pointed out recently, when you are running a hotel, 50% of the people don’t know what you do and the other half doesn’t care — that would be kind of funny if it wasn’t sort of sad. 

For a leader to earn respect, obviously it means treating people fairly, leading powerfully, demonstrating compassion, not letting people think you put profit in front of people, being bold, listening earnestly, etc. Even when you can get a handle on it, some people may respect you and some will think you are too bold, too conservative, too loud or too quiet. You just can’t control the full monty.

What you can control is the respect you give to others. A girlfriend recently shared this with me: A general manager who hadn’t seen her in 20 or so years reconnected with her on the Internet and told her what a fantastic associate she had been. So 20 years went by, and she never knew. Reflect how often you think of how much you love your partner or child, or appreciate a colleague, and the respect in the form of acknowledgment just never gets out of your mouth. It’s as if we think they must know how we feel, so why speak it? Alert the press: They don’t know! And generally you don’t know what spoken respect buys you until they walk out the door, lose productivity or resort to resignation about “the way things are around here.” Resignation infects and brings down any service culture.  

Hmmm … what if? What if you had Aretha Franklin as a coach? (First, ask her to hold the “sock it to me” lyrics on the song.) She might suggest you find just one thing about a person you respect and acknowledge them specifically for what it is. It might go like this:

“Housekeeper, I am so proud to work with you. You have no idea how I respect your efforts every day, and I want to let you know that I do. Working with you is a pleasure and a privilege for me.”
“Engineer, I wish I had the skills you have. I have so much respect for your knowledge. Thanks so much for being here and paying attention to all the details. It is clear to me how your background is crucial to our success.”

I’ll bet even your boss would benefit from some respect and acknowledgement. Its power reaches beyond one’s status.

You want to talk about paying it forward? Watch that housekeeper excel in the future because how you speak to her pushes a pride button. The engineer will clearly puff up his chest and deliver better and better results, and the boss, well, you will stand out among the throngs.

Find out what it means to me 
Take care, TCB 
Aretha is not the Queen of “Soul” for nothing.