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Respect: Multiple definitions

Everything I know about respect I learned from the preface to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”:

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem…

Yet, respect flourishes at Communispace and elsewhere when we strive to avoid privileging one voice over others. So rather than simply ruminating on my definition of respect, I turned to my community of friends and family and posed this question: What does respect mean in the workplace? Here’s a sample of the responses:

  • No clipping your nails at your desk; don’t wear perfume/cologne; say “please” and “thank you”; acknowledge co-workers by saying “hello” as you pass in the hallway; don’t gossip about your co-workers and/or clients; be kind.
  • I strongly agree about greetings in passing—especially with new people (even if you do not know them) to be sure they feel welcomed! Paying attention to people presenting in meetings, not being late for them. Considering others’ ideas, even if you do not immediately agree with them.
  • I think respect in the workplace also means expecting that people will do their job (and doing your own) but not holding people to artificial time requirements. For example, sometimes I work late because something needs to get done, but other days I leave early because it’s all done.
  • Recognizing and understanding expertise beyond one’s own, and allowing colleagues to do their job to the best of their abilities. Celebrating others’ skills and prowess, particularly those at a lower rung on the ladder, makes everyone better. A rising tide lifts all boats… or however that phrase goes.

In addition to respect, our other values include: Client Dedication, Excellence, Integrity, Adventure, Energy, and Ownership. This week will highlight some of our dedicated employees that exemplify some of these values. Be sure to check back later on this week for a special video post as well!

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