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Art of earning respect

Art of Earning Respect-MarketExpressSomeone once, said, “Respect does not mean just the absence of disrespect.” Let me expand on that …respect means understanding, acceptance and acknowledgement. However in today’s world; disrespect, the antithesis of respect is gaining ground as a shortcut to power.

The apparent disintegration and downfall of the value called ‘Respect’ has been gradual but permanent. Remember those days when the first thing kids were taught, was ‘Respect’. Nowadays the vital or core value expounded for survival and progression are assertiveness and intermittently its more heavy-duty cousin, aggressiveness. In today’s VUCA world (VUCA being an acronym used to describe the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of situations) leaders have a very small window within which they can prove themselves.

Consequently more than respect, it is disrespect which receives visibility and importance. The world sees disrespect in Vladimir Putin’s attempts to reinstate Russia to its former splendour and glory. From the Sochi Winter Olympics’ to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine crisis and even asylum offered to Edward Snowden, all actions of Russia are analysed with magnified lens. More than the suffering and pain of many, it’s the impertinence of the leader which receives attention. Similarly, President Putin in return senses disrespect from other powerful nations in their retaliations and actions .In this game of diplomatic one up – manship, who pays the price of perceived and actual slights at these levels?

Similarly in the  struggle for visibility and prominence the belief often is, that one has to be more self-centred in projecting ones-self. Who or what falls by the way side, as a consequence, is of secondary importance, hence as governments all over the world try to portray and maintain the semblance of world peace, many a Syrian child’s very survival is disrespected.

These leaders and each one of us need to remember that genuine respect works both ways; it is first given and then received in turn. The first step for a leader is genuinely respecting the people, you expect to follow you.

Another important aspect of respect is being able to differentiate between being nice and letting someone walk all over you. Let’s take an example closer home…The elections results are out. As against the BJP’s historical win stands the worst possible defeat that the Congress has ever faced in past elections. Let us not delve into the whys and how of this journey because there are already many a post mortem evaluations being presented in newspapers and news channels.

The Manmohan Singh government faced many a challenge at the Centre during its second term. I recall one of them in the context of this article .It was the 27th September 2013 and a routine press meeting in New Delhi. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were looming over the horizon. Ajay Maken, the Congress Chief Communications Officer was meticulously defending the government’s ordinance, which negated a Supreme Court’s order that ruled convicted lawmakers couldn’t continue in office. Congress Vice-President, Rahul Gandhi made an impromptu, impetuous appearance and proceeded to trash the ordinance and consequently, Manmohan Singh’s repute as a Prime Minister.

An opportunity for grand standing for one ambitious politician reduced another to a spectacle on the world stage, ironically both batting for the same team, with supposedly a common purpose. One does not have the impertinence to claim that this incident was a major contributing factor for the Congress government’s downfall .I look at it merely as an indication of things to come, culminating with Rahul’s absence at Sonia Gandhi’s farewell dinner for Manmohan Singh and of course the election results announced on May 16th 2014.

In our hurry to achieve our full potential and personal goals, respect for others is often perceived as unnecessary baggage and willingly sacrificed at the altar of ambition. The virtues of team work are expounded on every forum available and used only as a means to ends like profitability, growth or towards crafting a certain market perception. Proponents of team building should know that devoid of respect, team work is like an oasis for the parched, although filled with salt water. Omnipresent, but of no real worth.

The world we live in is an impatient, fast paced and technology driven one .Here each one of us is seeking our rightful place under the sun. However in this pursuit of all that we could be, let us not lose sight of all that we are and should be. Power should not be assumed, one should be worthy of it. Respect should not be treated as a situational value to be mindfully and consciously directed towards money; position and standing. Respect should genuinely be given and earned in return.

  • Shamik Bandyopadhyay

    Well written.