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Increasing Respect Can be a Simple and Effective Strategy to Promoting Success



Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg were giving a joint interview and the subject of directing came up.  The interviewer asked what Tom Hanks does when he is criticized during the filming. His response was that the mutual respect between him and Steven encourages an open exchange of movie-making methods, which is a crucial part of their movie-making success.

What we can learn from this is two very important aspects of a successful business operation. First is that one should remember that critiques, the addition of new research material, and third party expectations should be viewed objectively, and not be taken personally, or seen as a comment on someone’s politics. This requires a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-confidence: two critical components of an entrepreneur.

The second is that once you can distance yourself from the feedback, you can more easily remind yourself that the feedback and critique is actually helping your business become better. A critical component of listening is respect, even if you disagree with the communication. In business, we need to pay more attention to developing and practicing the notion of respect with all our partners like, for example, our clients, suppliers, and resources, so that the decision-making process can be improved.

This requires:

  • Understanding;
  • Politeness;
  • Courtesy;
  • Being knowledgeable; and
  • Encouraging communication.

But let’s take it a step further.

Respect within the organization itself motivates participants to have a more invested approach to their role.  It improves performance, morale, and, yes, even attendance.  The overall environment of the business will be all the better for it.

A good example is “customer service.”

The Four Seasons Hotel always impressed me with the company’s focus on apologizing for a less than perfect experience, and in finding the perfect solution.  However, I’ve found that in other organizations, placing blame is the game, and the problem goes unsolved and a really great opportunity was lost.  I wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve heard, “Those are the rules and I can’t change them,” even if a practical solution could be easily figured out.

Respect requires politeness, but should not be preoccupied with “political correctness.” A trait of many successful cultures is one where participants can vigorously debate and challenge assumptions and alternatives without regard to authority or power, or making a comment that may not coincide with beliefs of other staff or management.  A healthy business debate can be an invaluable problem-solving technique.

Here are some fairly simple strategies to encourage respect:

  • Include the phrases “please,” “thank you,” “I am sorry,” and “how are you?” in your discussions.  Just hearing these phrases can ease the situation.
  • Understand and encourage diverse points of view. Invite experts in other areas, ensure everyone’s voice is heard in staff meetings, and include “what if?” alternatives in discussions.  In my work, I role-play with clients to practice this all- important concept.
  • There is no substitution for experience, knowledge, and experience.   A gifted staff, who know they have respect from every level in the organization, will develop the best solutions.  They will be your best problem-solvers!

In summary, respect for customers, suppliers, and participants is critical and frequently overlooked.  But, it’s an inexpensive component of success.

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