The Ten Rules of Respect

Have you ever seen how a lack of respect can ruin the culture of an organization or a family? When people don’t respect each other, they lose an appreciation for each other. And that can devolve into nasty personal relations—all because people did not respect each other.


Respect has become a hot topic within the realm of leadership development. The 2017 Global Leadership Summit identified ten rules of respect that can apply to any group of people at work or home.

Here are the “Respect 10” as I have interpreted them. How many of these have you instituted in your home or workplace?


1. Set the example with no demonizing

It is important for you as a leader to set the example without having to make anyone the enemy. You can set the tone by being positive, without having to go negative. You as the leader should show everyone that you will treat everyone with respect and not dehumanize them in any way. Watch how you conduct yourself—because everyone at your work or home will be watching you.


2. Spirited conversation without getting personal

It is all right to have spirited conversation in your home or workplace. Arguments are not bad in and of themselves. It’s a good thing to have different viewpoints. And disagreements are okay. In fact, passionate disagreements are okay. But it is essential for everyone to agree to disagree agreeably. It’s fine to surround yourself with people who know what they believe and are passionate about their viewpoints. But you as a leader must show them that they must prevent their comments from getting personal when their views differ from someone else.


3. No interrupting

When people get animated about their viewpoints, there is the temptation to interrupt someone else. It is good to prevent people from interrupting. Even though it seems like a small thing, over time it can have a long-lasting impact. It is disrespectful to interrupt, and people can take it very personally. And it can poison their interpersonal dynamics. You would be wise as a leader to prevent people from interrupting each other.


4. Limit volume level or belittling words

When people disagree with each other, their voices may get raised and the decibel level may go up. It’s important to remind them that they should not allow their voices to get loud. When one party’s voice gets loud, others feel like they need to get loud too. And that can devolve into a shouting match. Also, it’s important to watch out for belittling words. When people belittle each other, those can become “fightin’ words.” You as a leader should set the standard to have no belittling words spoken, regardless if they are said with raised voices or not.


5. Be courteous in word and deed

It is always appropriate to have common courtesy—because it is actually not very common. When people are courteous to each other, it undergirds respect for each other. And being courteous gives people the benefit of the doubt. Common courtesy defuses situations before they arise. Saying “please” and “thank you” will lubricate the engine of cooperation. And doing simple, kind gestures for each other—like even opening the door for each other—underscore an appreciation of another’s humanity.


6. Never stereotype

Stereotyping can be a dangerous and slippery slope. When people start stereotyping others, they deny others’ unique individuality and reduce them to a class of people. Stereotyping in effect says that these individuals always will do such and such or will never do such and such because they are supposedly synonymous with a class of people. That does not affirm them as people; instead it demeans them. You would be wise to weed it out of your own speech.


7. Apologize

An apology is one of the most powerful tools you have in your interpersonal toolkit for giving respect. By admitting that you went afoul of an appropriate standard shows that you recognize their intrinsic worth. When I have had to genuinely and humbly apologize for what I did, I have seen it take all the emotion out of the situation. While it is up to the other person to decide to forgive you, nonetheless you have done your part to keep good relations with them.


8. Form opinions carefully and be willing to change your mind

People can tend to make snap judgments about other people that are not kind or accurate. I have done that before, and often been wrong. As you are able to change, so are others. And since others are able to change, it behooves you to be willing to change your mind about them. It will benefit you to be cognizant of the opinions you form of others. Be quick to challenge your own opinions. It will be better for you to tell yourself that your initial opinion was wrong than for someone else to have to tell you.


9. Show up and do what you say you will do

One sure way to respect others is to honor them by doing what you said you will do. It also shows that you respect yourself enough to follow up on what you have agreed to do. In both work and family environments, this is one of the most powerful ways you can contribute to a positive dynamic. It demonstrates that you are team player and you are committed to doing your part.


10. Set rules of respect

Others will look to you as a leader to show them appropriate behavior for that environment. As a result, it is helpful for you to have written rules for how you will work together and treat each other. Those rules will provide the basis for the code of conduct that will be expected. It shows you have enough respect for them to take the time to say how you want them to respect each other.


If you implement these ten rules of respect for your home or workplace you will see an increase in enjoyment of each other because they will have learned how to have a respect for each other.


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