Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to describe 7 remarkably simple components of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that you can apply to your everyday conduct. The ability to earn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a critical Leadership requirement … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it.
It’s also the “centerpiece of accountability“, a concept that vexes the most astute business leaders. Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without gaining respect, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it to get it. Are you with me?
A few weeks ago, we kicked off our 7 part series, R.E.S.P.E.C.T – How To Get It by Earning It, and talked about one way to earn instant respect starting with the “R” in Respect … be Right on Time, Every Time.
Last week, we introduced The 24 Hour Rule about the “E” in Respect … Every Time. On Time … returning calls and customer contact right away.
Isn’t that what our Moms taught us … about the time we began to point out the shortcomings of the folks spinning into our universe? In our R.E.S.P.E.C.T series, it’s the “S” … Say something nice … or don’t say anything at all.
At first, I thought this was just too simple to bother mentioning.
Who needs to be told this? Haven’t we heard it ad nauseum, like I said, since Mom first heard an unkind utterance slip off our tongue?
For those of us with a sarcastic or cynical bent … are you looking at me? … it probably gets in our way more than it helps. We know we’re supposed to be nice, but when we’re with a few knucklehead colleagues and friends, we can lay on a little sarcasm, can’t we? Tease? Nudge?
What Mom was really talking about, though, is not the “nice” that comes out of our mouths, but the “nice” born of humility and compassion.
Each of us probably knows someone who never has an unkind word to say about anyone. They’re either better than us at keeping it to themselves … or they’re genuinely compassionate and know that they’re seeing only one side of any issue … and since we know there’s always 2 sides to every story … they’re giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.
Acting nice is not the same as being nice.
I kept trudging on with this seemingly simple maxim because I know, first-hand, what this looks like from the other side. If we’re always bad-mouthing someone and can only offer a cutting remark when their name comes up, we know that Mom would not approve. What we’ve learned is that to be nice is not so easy after all.
People hurt us with their remarks as well as their behavior, and we’re all too eager to return the favor. We would have been nice if they were, but since they started it … or, “the way they treat
me other people doesn’t deserve my respect” … or “why should I be nice?
They’ve never done anything nice for/to me?” Of course, these remarks are usually made under our breath and casual observers may not even notice. But we notice, and we know that our hearts are NOT in the right place no matter what comes out of our mouths.
Mom didn’t mean “act nice” … she meant “be nice”. Quite a difference when you think about it. The first one is staged, play-acting, for demonstration purposes only … but the second one is real, born of humility and nurtured with the understanding that we’re all on a similar mission … to fight back the demons and find our way through the brambles.
As we know, life’s a journey so it’s okay if we stumble along the way and are slow to appreciate the qualities that we later embrace. But if you want to be nice … like Mom said, and in my case, my Dad lived, we really need to dig deep to find out why our reservoir of compassion and understanding is shallow.
On our way there, the reality of “S” … Say something nice … or don’t say anything at all will be readily apparent.
Remember that the general precepts of our R.E.S.P.E.C.T – How To Get It by Earning It series, are at the core of one of the most tormenting challenges faced by business leaders … how promote and achieve accountability throughout the organization.
I have spoken extensively on this subject, including at a national webinar sponsored by Success Factors last year, and it may be one of the most exasperating issues that CEOs face because it’s also central to creating a responsible culture, without which, not much gets done. You’ll find other resources about the Cornerstone of Accountability in the Speaking section under Leadership Challenges and Solutions.
So, go ahead, differentiate yourself from the competition. This is another easy one you can hit out of the park. That’s what our strategy should be about in the first place, isn’t it? How much easier can we make it?
So be nice to me, will ya’? I’ll be nice to you ….