R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Part I
Since writing last week’s column, I’ve had nine clients vent to me their frustrations over not being respected — by bosses, colleagues, direct reports, and a mother-in-law! My week was filled with the refrain, “I don’t feel respected!”
Each of these men and women feels hurt, angry, confused and each has reached the point where he or she feels like they can’t take it anymore. And adding to all of this is a feeling of helplessness. While each has handled his or her own situation differently, no one feels confident.
Five of the people opted not to say anything. Two got in the other person’s face. One found the courage to assertively confront her boss and another decided to respond with sarcasm and walk away.
One man claims he’s gained valuable insight into his boss’ unpredictable mood swings, but wishes he had been more assertive. One woman, who did find the courage to assertively address her boss’ irrational and demeaning demands, isn’t sure where she found the nerve and is surprised that her boss has backed off.
There are no hard and fast rules for communicating effectively. You constantly need to assess who is involved, what’s the situation, and what’s your goal. You can’t figure out how to attain your goal unless you know what it is.
The issue of respect (or lack of it) is so pervasive amongst my clients and students that I’ve decided to devote two columns to the topic. This week I want to look at how so many of us are afraid to confront a person whom we think is disrespectful.
Louise (name changed) works for a small firm owned by her brother. She directly reports, though, to Anthony and her problem is with him. Louise doesn’t think he respects her. Although she feels disrespected, she actually doesn’t know how he feels about her because she’s never talked with him about their relationship. Why? Because she doesn’t want to upset him — even though she continues to feel upset about the way he treats her.
When I suggested I moderate a conversation between them, she almost started to hyperventilate.
But, here’s the thing — she only has two options. She can continue to say nothing and nurture her fantasies of being emotionally abused and then one day explode, after which she’ll be labeled a b*tch. Or, she can have a non-accusatory, non-manipulative conversation by which to clear the air.
Louise offered me a battery of “yes, buts” that make perfect sense since she’s not used to expressing her feelings in a non-explosive way. But having that tough conversation is what real respect is all about.
Next week I will show you how to confront someone who’s being disrespectful.
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