Chapter 48: Respect

Several people in my circle, people whom I deeply care about, have recently been mistreated by self-absorbed people who have no perspective. So maybe a lesson on being a decent human being is in order?

Before you critize someone – a teacher, a volunteer leader, a coach, a colleague, a friend – take a moment to reflect. Is your feedback meaningful? Or is it vicious and self-serving? Is it the kind of feedback where the recipient can learn from it? Will it help the program in the long run? Or will it just make you feel better by being critical?

Take a moment to think about this person you are critizing. Are they a professional? Do they have lots of experience? Have they been doing this job longer than you have participated? If so, remember that they have probably seen it all. They have most likely dealt with whatever is bothering you. They may know how things will improve or will turn out. Instead of criticizing, maybe engaging them in a respectful conversation would be more useful for you and for them?

Take a moment to think about this person you are critizing. Are they a volunteer? Do they have lots of experience because they have been doing this volunteer year role out of personal passion for the kids or the program? Are they using personal time to contribute to the group? How much personal time have you committed to the group or program? Do you know the background of this person you want to criticize? A little grace can go a long way.

Take a moment to think about this person you are critizing. Remember they are human. Perhaps they have an ailment, so don’t feel physically 100%, and it is impacting their usual contribution to the program, but they are doing their best? Or perhaps they have a loved one who is ill, so they are carrying an extra load of worry? Perhaps a spouse or child lost their job, so there is an extra layer of financial burden? The possibilities are endless. A little grace can go a long way.

Take a moment to think about yourself. Have you contributed to the program that you are complaining about? Have you volunteered? Have you spent time in the trenches with the folks who are really engaged? Do you know how things are run and how things get done? If not, perhaps take some time to get some more perspective? It’s easy to complain from the outside, but harder when you understand all that is involved in pulling off a successful program.

Take a moment to think about yourself. Do you want to be known as the Negative Nelly of the group? The one who is always complaining? The one who everyone knows is intolerant and impatient? The one who is mean, nasty or vicious? The one who screams and threatens? FYI – those qualities are very unattractive. No one wants to be around people who behave like that. Some people may not care about those things, but I believe most of us want to be decent humans.

Please remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Is that really so hard?