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Could You Still Show Respect to Someone You Dislike? Would You?

Could You Still Show Respect to Someone You Dislike? Would You?

Do you respect everyone? Would you show everyone and anyone respect, including people who have made mistakes that may seem unforgivable?

Merriam-Webster defines respect as:

  • a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.
  • a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way
  • a particular way of thinking about or looking at something

However, does that mean if something is not valuable, expensive, or important, respect should be waived? How about someone who is not smart, or maybe not important? What about a working class person with little achievement or social class standing? Does that mean they do not deserve to be treated appropriately?

We see examples of disrespectful behavior in our daily lives. In the online world, we see individuals who are targeted with negative hurtful comments, from strangers who don’t even know them. An ex-convict is viewed differently and perhaps even looked down on for their past doings even if they are changed a change person now. The poor and homeless are often given less respectful treatment than the rich and privileged. A well-dressed person is treated more politely and more welcomed than someone who dresses casually.

Respect, in Reality

At home, in our neighbourhood, at our school or workplace, we are constantly in the presence of other people. This means that we need to interact with one another at some point, if not on a daily basis.

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There are those who click with us naturally and those we take an immediate liking to when we first get acquainted; there are also those we dislike from the first instant, and the connection never seems to improve no matter how much we try. Then again, there are those who have such negative attitudes and behaviour that others turn their backs on them.

When we come face to face with someone we dislike or hate interacting with, how do we still maintain the same amount of respectful treatment as we would with others? How about someone who habitually behaves rudely and has a bad attitude? What about someone who refuses to take responsibility for their actions and/or inactions, constantly pushing blame and running away from accountability?

Or worse, what if we have to interact with someone who is bad but they don’t realize they are the problem? What about selfish and manipulative people? Compulsive liars? Or those who make you hate them to the core?

Should you still demonstrate respect to them and treat them with smiles, politeness, and dignity? Can you bring yourself to do it? Would you even want to?

Some of us may believe that a person who does not respect others or even themselves in the first place does not deserve to be treated with respect in return. However, the perfect analogy would be when someone hurts you or steals from you: would you hurt them back or steal from them to show them what they deserve?

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Think of someone who has treated you with disrespect. Would you treat them with the same disrespectful behavior simply because they don’t know how to respect themselves and others? If we did that, what would the difference be between us and them?

How Practicing Respect Can Change You and Your Life

Believe it or not, we practice varying levels of respect to different people we come across. Ironically, we tend to show strangers or people we barely know more respect than people who are close to us, like our family members. We are more polite and say nicer things to our neighbors or colleagues or even the grocer than our spouses or siblings.

Respect is an innate trait and attitude we ingrain within ourselves. It is not something we have to see coming from others first before we start practicing. Respect is independent of human nature or external reasons.

Respect, like trust, has to be earned, no doubt, but when we are gracious enough to bestow the respect to others first, even when they don’t deserve it, we are essentially practicing respect towards ourselves and showing others how to respect us appropriately.

If you have difficulty showing respect to people whom you cannot stand at all, here are some tactics you might want to explore and practice rather than trying to persuade yourself to cool down or lose it each time you face the individuals head on.

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Practice Mutuality

Be sure to maintain a mutual space between each other, and practice mutual respect to others, if not with one another.  If you cannot be friendly with someone at work, at least be professional with them. If you cannot stay polite with someone in your social circle, maintain a safe distance so your interactions will be limited.

When you dislike someone and cannot treat them with respect, they will usually feel it and reciprocate the same in return. This then feeds into the negative cycle. However, when we practice mutual space and respect to people, even those we dislike or cannot tolerate, we are not only building on our tolerance, but also demonstrating our graciousness by showing others that we respect ourselves enough to not be on the same page as them.

Accept Differences in Individuals

We are all different beings. Who you are and who the other person is are completely different. You are not defined by one another — nor are you defined by their actions, characters, behaviors, and attitudes.

Accepting the differences and gaps in individuals may be hard to accept for some, given our variances in backgrounds, upbringings, cultures, education, beliefs, mindsets, and environment, but every step or finding is a learning journey for us in our lives.  Adapting to and learning from different people and situations will not only expand our vision and perspectives, but also broaden our understanding with more acceptance.

View Situations Objectively

When you have issues with maintaining mutual respect with individuals whom you can barely tolerate, try to learn to not be affected by their presence and to not take things personally. Try to view the situation (instead of the person) with objectivity.

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Perhaps the individual’s personality is a certain way that grinds on your nerves, and they can’t really help it. Rather than being affected negatively by who you are dealing with, focus on the situation. Deal with the issues and circumstances instead of with the individuals involved. This will make matters easier and more manageable.

In Other Words

There is no one or definite way to treat anyone. Mutual respect is key.

We are all worthy and deserving of respect for who we are as individuals, regardless of our social class, achievements, personality, dress sense, intellect, or even our physique. When we practice respectful behavior toward others, we are in fact respecting ourselves, and demonstrating to others how we want to be treated in return. When you respect yourself, others will respect you too.

Featured photo credit: Tennis shake hands after match via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on June 12, 2019

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

#10. Look for Joy in Life

An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

  • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
  • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
  • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
  • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

#9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

  • 13 Movies
  • 11 TV Shows
  • 5 Words or Phrases
  • 19 Personal Stories
  • 5 Cartoons
  • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
  • 11 Comedians
  • 7 TV Personalities
  • 7 Funny Photos
  • 7 People You Know
  • 15 of Anything Else
  • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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#8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

  • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
  • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
  • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
  • Times of change or learning
  • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

#7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

  • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
  • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

#6. Understand Your Audience

Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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  • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
  • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
  • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
  • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

#5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

  • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
  • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
  • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
  • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

#4. Get over Yourself

Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

  • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
  • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
  • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

#3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

  • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
  • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
  • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

#2. Surround Yourself with Joy

If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

#1. Dive into the Fun

Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
  • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
  • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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