5 Reasons to Focus on Respect Training

September 16, 2013 | 784 Views

5 Reasons to Focus on Respect Training

Lisa Marovec, FMP

Paul Meshanko of Legacy Business Cultures got rave reviews for his session on the Respect Effect at the recent CHART Miami Conference. Now, he has summarized this relevant information in an article:

Everybody is motivated by something. Likewise, there’s also something that can motivate people to change. It’s just a matter of figuring out what the levers are for each person. As it pertains to treating others with respect, there have historically been two important arguments that people have advocated. In recent years, additional arguments have surfaced.

According to statistics published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. corporations paid $445.8 million to settle discrimination-related violations in 2012. Frighteningly, these figures represented only reported fines paid for those cases that went to court and did not include attorney and other legal fees incurred. They also did not include money spent reaching settlements for claims that did not go to court, damage to corporate “good will,” and lost workplace productivity. While hard data for these costs are not available because settlement details are often kept confidential, some estimates put them at over four times the actual amount of fines collected. It is safe to assume that U.S. businesses spent over $2 billion to settle claims of disrespectful, and typically unlawful, behavior. You don't have to major in finance to be impressed by the potential cost of disrespect, either individual or systemic.

The second reason used to advocate for greater respect at work is the case for social justice. Philosophically, I and many others believe that there are some things that are just basically right to do. One of these things is treating others with respect and dignity, no matter who they are. The problem is that not everybody goes along with this. Some people may nod their heads in agreement that respect is important and that we owe it to each other, but if it doesn't impact them personally, they're not likely to change their behavior—especially not because someone like me comes along and says it's the right thing to do.

A third reason is now emerging as a compelling motivation for focusing on respect: biology. Each of our brains is profoundly influenced by how we're treated by others. There are no smoke and mirrors here, just neurons, neurotransmitters, and electrical impulses. When we're treated with respect, our brains literally light up and perform at the highest levels at which they’re capable. When we’re treated with disrespect, the higher thought processes in our brains go dormant. Hijacked by our primitive survival wiring, we become diminished assets to our employers and their organizations.

Linked to this third reason is yet a fourth. When we are able to create work environments that consistently value, esteem, and nurture our employees, we increase something called employee engagement. Simply stated, engaged employees become emotionally committed to the success of their organizations and are much more likely to give their highest levels of discretionary effort when they’re performing their work. In their minds, the success of their employer becomes entwined with their own personal success.

There is one final reason worth mentioning for focusing on respect: your legacy. Five or ten years in the future, the people you interact with today aren't going to remember the exact things you said and did. Whether it was during a staff meeting, at a sales conference, or on the golf course, the memories will fade. They also aren’t going to remember how late you worked, what time you showed up in the morning, or your spouse’s name. At least most people won't, because that's not how the human brain works.

While it’s not great at details, in most cases the brain does a superb job of recording our emotional experiences as we go through life. We remember people we met by how we typically felt when we were in their presence. If we were usually happy around them, we imagine they were smiling and kind to us. If we felt confident and proud, then we remember them guiding and supporting us. If we felt awkward, intimidated, or inferior around them, we re-create their demeanor and behavior accordingly. Credit goes to the brain’s limbic system for this unique methodology of remembering people and events.

Whether we realize it or not, how we engage others leaves a lasting imprint. We're literally building our own legacy in their minds, one interaction at a time. Having long since forgotten the details, people will simply remember how they felt around us and then make up the rest of the story to match. When others think of us, will they smile and fondly reminisce or will they quickly “switch channels” and find a happier memory to dwell upon? An important question to ask ourselves is, how do we want to be remembered? More importantly, what are we willing to do to start responsibly building our legacy today?

Excerpt from The Respect Effect: Using the science of neuroleadership to inspire a more loyal and productive workplace by Paul Meshanko, president & CEO, Legacy Business Cultures. McGraw-Hill publishing 2013.  Available on amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

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