When I was 12, I had an after-school job delivering medicine for Mr Wilson, the local pharmacist. He showed an interest in me and would tell me a little about each patient before I set out on my bicycle, satchel over my shoulder. He also always made a point of thanking me as I left to go home each afternoon. Mr Wilson was a sensitive man with a lot of empathy for other people. Each Saturday I would take my hard-earned cash to Mr Rose, who owned the local music store, and buy some 45 RPM vinyl records. Mr Rose was often curious about my latest purchases and recognized my passion for music. When I turned 15, he gave me a job selling records on a Saturday morning. I loved the music of Aretha Franklin, especially the song, “Respect”, which was one of my earliest purchases. Aretha’s voice would send shivers up my spine, and still does. (Her gospel performance in the recent documentary, “Amazing Grace”, is so moving it made me weep). Respect is such a powerful concept I’d say it is the single most important thing in the world. Respect protects living things so they can grow, it nourishes relationships, and it enables people to collaborate and solve the most difficult problems. Regardless of your role in life or business, if you fail to respect others, you will find it difficult to achieve your goals. On a flight back to Australia this week I was reflecting on what respect looks like in practice. Here are 7 principles for creating RESPECT.
R is for Recognition
We are talking here about remembering things that others have told you, and showing an interest in what has been going on for them. This includes the basics such as getting their name right. Recognizing someone’s effort or commitment is also a sign of respect. Mr Wilson was great at this.
E is for Equality
This means being fair, not taking advantage of others, and giving them the same consideration that you would like to be given. It also means that, even when you have more power or authority than others, you don’t assume your needs are more important than theirs.
S is for Sensitivity
When we are wrapped up in our own thinking, we can forget to pay attention to how we are affecting others by our comments, tone of voice or how we use our body. The guy sitting next to me on the plane has been speaking extremely loudly to his mate as well as jabbing me with his elbow. It’s unintentional but it’s annoying and disrespectful.
P is for Patience
It’s not always convenient to give other people the time and space to have their say. If we rush them or cut them off, we are likely to create an environment of tension, whereas slowing down and practising patience is likely to bring out the best in them. We may also learn something valuable that would otherwise have stayed hidden.
E is for Empathy
When we look at a situation from another person’s point of view, and make the effort to appreciate why they feel as they do, we are practising empathy. It is also a sign of respect, which they are likely to appreciate and respond positively to.
C is for Curiosity
You can practice curiosity by taking a genuine interest in others and asking them specific, open-ended questions to find out more about them. Giving your full attention to someone in a conversation is showing respect. Looking at your phone when someone is talking to you is the height of disrespect.
T is for Transparency
For people to commit to something, they need to know you are being straight with them, and that you have disclosed all the relevant facts. Transparency is also respecting people’s right to be kept informed about the things that are likely to impact on them. If you work for a franchisor, showing respect for your franchisees is the most important thing you can do. Practise these 7 principles and I guarantee you’ll see immediate improvements to franchisee satisfaction and engagement. Out of respect, I am going to leave the last word to Aretha Franklin: “I’m about to give you all of my money And all I’m askin’ in return, honey, Is to give me a little respect!”