One of the things I hear a lot about these days is respect, or the lack thereof. It is something many of our participants struggle with in both their professional and personal lives. I also noticed that one of our most frequently read blog articles is called How to manage a disrespectful l employee. Then it occurred to me that this is not surprising, because DISRESPECT is a label being given by some to any act that is born out of aggression, frustration, anger, or someone simply just stating their position on a controversial subject. Others may feel differently about these acts, based on the situation, and view them as justified and acceptable. My sense is that at any given point, there are times when each one of us feels disrespected, and we want and need to find an effective way to deal with it.
A good place to start is to understand how we sometimes react in situations that are difficult. Think of the last time you felt challenged and powerless. What reaction did that feeling evoke in you? I ask because the feeling of powerlessness is huge, and in many people it causes childlike reactions that negatively impact others. By childlike I mean angry outbursts, psychological attacks, the need to control, or subtle manipulation. Simply put, when we are children, there are times when we experience being powerless and we may carry forth this feeling with us into adulthood, quite often unconsciously. This affects our perceptions and our behavior. But these experiences don’t have to control one’s life because everyone can use their personal power to change the dynamics in any given moment…it is conscious choice they have to make.
So what does all of this have to do with respect? Let’s take a simple example of a disrespectful employee. During a team meeting, this employee, who is a “star player”, challenges your idea in front of everyone in such a way that you feel disrespected. You can demand compliance. But are you reacting this way because you feel powerless to control the situation or person or feel like your credibility is being questioned? Another choice is to ask questions to explore the reason for their behavior and listen, really listen. Ask them why they are having such a strong reaction, who knows, maybe they feel you never listen to them and they feel disrespected! Respect is a two-way street in healthy and productive relationships.
Every day we have choices to make in how we interact with others in challenging situations and sometimes the best way to start is to look in the mirror, understand our own perceptions and reactions, and realize that many times we don’t fully understand the motivation behind what we deem as acts of “disrespect”. And, when it is blatant disrespect, you can choose to Disengage and move away. Again, it is a choice. The way you react can shift another person’s behavior in ways you never felt possible because you managed the moment using your personal power.
Situation Management Systems, Inc.
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