Month: December 2006

Command, don’t demand respect

Command, don’t demand respect

Respect. It’s a funny concept. All around me, I see people demanding/giving respect for all the wrong reasons. In your family, respect your elders whether or not they deserve it. Respect your school/university teachers, doesn’t matter if they can’t teach anything. At work, respect your seniors, regardless of how competent they are.

I often wonder why people demand respect. If someone respects you only because you are in a position to demand it, then it’s fake. I would like to be respected only for my abilities and qualities, not because my position demands it.

What perturbs me is that often I receive respect for the “wrong” reasons. For example, I can see that some of my subordinates show respect to me, whether or not they want to. They want to be politically correct. After all, they can’t afford to upset their boss!

To me, those who “show” respect without feeling it inside are being pretentious. And I don’t respect pretentious people.

Real respect is earned, inspired if you will. But it is certainly not demanded. And what does respect have to do with age and seniority? I respect many of my subordinates—not because they demand (they can’t!) but because they command it by the way they work, their behaviour, their attitudes. On the other hand I don’t feel respect for many of my seniors—because I find that they assert themselves needlessly, frequently to show their authority and feel in control. Yet sometimes I notice that people curb their respect, again for the wrong reasons. Bosses don’t “show” their respect to their subordinates, fathers to their sons, and teachers to their students, because they feel that doing so would lessen their authority.