The Street Clothes of Respect
by Dexter Valles, Managing Consultant VALMAR INTERNATIONAL Mumbai-INDIA
Respect . A commonplace word with a value that packs a powerful punch !
I am sure you have used this word many times in your life. It is also probably a value you have been advised to embody or one that you advise others to act with.
"Respect, also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard." Source : Wikipedia
Respect is probably the most understood value in action ! Aha ! In action ?
I would like to go somewhat beyond what Respect most often shows up as, in behaviour. What would Respect look like on the streets of everyday life ? How would we recognize it ? What clothes does Respect wear ? Can we wear them too ? Well, here is what it could be.
The Street Clothes of Respect
Reciprocity and responsiveness needs to be graciously active and alive in a relationship. It is the very fabric of the street clothes or respect.
Empathy is about caring enough to be available to let people know you acknowledge and value them, especially when they feel most vulnerable and emotionally frail. Empathy does one significant thing. It does away with judgement and replaces it with curiosity and unconditional care.
In the midst of the storm of sheer stress of competitiveness, volatility of the playing field, crashing economies, collapsing success strategies, complex and carefully formulated algorithms gone haywire. Empathy is the Mind-Spa to soak and calm fevered judgement, anger, guilt, shame and blame.
Empathetic engagement is what brings the soul to the surface. The resilience and coherence of the mind and heart. To courageously build choices patiently with optimism. Accompanied by the warmth of compassion. It's always recognized in the vibrant yet deep colours of your street clothes of Respect.
When was the last time you sensed this ? How did it feel ? To have someone just hold that space for you to gather your thoughts and emotions and find your sense of purpose and direction.
Without judgement. Without advice. With empathy. With patience. With consideration for both stated and unstated personal and emotional boundaries. With caring acknowledgement of both strengths and also vulnerabilities. With willingness to be with you especially when you can not possibly contribute back.
Supportive Space are the hands that hold your heart. It is the comforting innerwear that clothes you in the most unpretentious and invisible way.
Stephen Covey wrote about Emotional Bank Accounting being the accumulation of small positive deposits made in each relationship. Keeping small promises is one of these small yet significant deposits.
Promises practiced are those comfortable shoes that help you walk your talk. Take you the extra mile. Put a spring in your step and add strength to your stride.
What do you really want in a relationship ? What would make you feel that the other person cares ?
Shared expectations management are the adjustable hats or caps we wear, share and gift to each other too.
It fits best when our expectations are acted on with reciprocity and responsiveness, engage the hearts of people in understanding them with empathy and supports the space in which expectations are struggling for visible form and articulate expression.
The sweat band of these hats tell stories of the everyday sweet sweat equity we put into our relationships as often as we can. It says " You matter to me. And I shall always strive to give you, what you want from me. To be who you need me to be. Will you do the same for me ?"
Underpinning all aspects of every relationship is Trust. Not just the performance of the elements of Trust. But importantly, communicating trust.
By communicating honestly. By communicating our intentions. By communicating our vulnerabilities and fears. By communicating our expectations. By dropping those needless masks we wear, out of our need to project strength, prowess, capability and competence. Communicating Trust is achieved via Communicating our Authenticity.
Communicating Authentically is the hallmark of transparency. Transparency unashamedly declares our vulnerabilities. We are all too human more often than we wish to be. And it's no sin to declare our utter human-ness. We are okay being "extra-ordinary". The infinite power of naked ordinary-ness lies in its acceptance.
All of us make the time for what really matters to us. Yet we catch ourselves saying we don’t have time to spare for others. Even those who seem to matter to our lives.
The hard truth is that none of any of the street clothes of respect can be worn, unless we first wear the watch of time on our wrist. But then, the irony is that we must give it away every hour every day. Yes. To ourselves too. A man with no time for himself cannot give any away !
Our lives are time shared. We don’t live fully when we live in the narrow speed lane of our own share of this time.
Make the time willingly, with grace, clothe it everyday on the streets of life with respect and more time shall be made and given back. Especially when our time has finally come.
Summing up, the street clothes of respect when worn well clothes not just the wearer but also miraculously everyone the wearer embraces and enfolds into a growing, graceful and gracious life.
Notes from the author :
1. This article was triggered by a conversation with a friend, over a powerful speech by Oprah Winfrey at the Harvard Commencement 2013 . You can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMWFieBGR7c