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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.

Welcome to this month’s Tap Into Trust topic.

Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.

I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.

Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for Episode 9 on Respect. (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).

This month’s topic is on Respect

Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to use this month as you think about and apply this information and strategies on the topic of Openness:

I respect the dignity of every person. I encourage questioning and create a ‘zero fear’ environment where honest dialogue and relationships can thrive.

In this discussion, I want to start with a philosophical and practical struggle I personally had for many years around this notion of every person deserving our respect.

Two ways to look at Respect

Clarity for me came when I realised we need to look at respect in at least two ways.

In an article titled Two Kinds of Respect published in Ethics magazine, the author Stephen L. Darwall wrote this:

“… there is no puzzle at all in thinking both that all persons are entitled to respect just by virtue of them being persons and that persons are deserving of more or less respect by virtue of their personal characteristics”

I reckon Darwall is suggesting that … as a starting point, every person deserves our respect, however, that respect will be lessened or strengthened, depending on the others person’s character and conduct.

Respect and Self-TrustAs we consider respect and its impact on trust, we can first look through the lens of Self-Trust.

Drawing an important connection between respect and self-respect, in a Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article, author Robin S. Dillon says this:

“It is part of everyday wisdom that respect, and self-respect are deeply connected, that it is difficult if not impossible both to respect others if we don’t respect ourselves and to respect ourselves if others don’t respect us.”

This lens of Self-trust includes many other forms of self, including self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-efficacy. However, all point toward this important and inescapable truth that for us to be able to respect and trust other people, we first need to respect and trust ourselves.

What about considering respect through the lens of Trust Others.

Through this lens it becomes obvious that our propensity to trust others, to respect them, will be directly impacted by our assessment of their intentions, words, actions, results, competence, character, and consistency.

Here again though, it highlights the importance of our own intentions towards others as a starting point.

Do we start with an intention to genuinely want to respect and trust others … to respect their diverse and different beliefs, values, perspectives, and experiences?

Or do we start with an intention based on unfounded suspicion that no one ought to be respected or trusted until that respect and trust are earned?

My friend and author of The Truth About Trust in Business, Vanessa Hall says “Trust is fragile” and that rings true for respect as well … Respect is fragile, it can be fractured easily and difficult to mend once broken or lost.

Finally, let’s consider this notion of respect through the lens of Earn Others’ Trust.

It becomes quite clear here that other people will decide on whether to respect or not respect us, based on their assessment of our intentions, words, actions, results, competence, character and consistency in our behaviour.

Here again, the advice of Aristotle is relevant where he suggests “our actions and our behaviour are our morals shown in conduct.”

Everything we say and everything we do sends loud and clear messages to other people about whether they ought to decide to trust and respect us.

In philosophy, respect might as a starting point be every person’s entitlement, but in the real world, just like trust, respect is earned, and for it to be maintained over time, it will be determined by our decisions, actions, results and character.

So, for this next month and beyond, focus wherever and whenever you can on your propensity toward not only trusting others, but also your propensity to respect others – respect their diversity in their opinions, experiences, perspectives, and cultures. At the same time, be aware of your own sense of self-respect and self-trust.

In the wonderful 2005 hit song titled Proud, Heather Small challenges every one of us to answer this question when she sings “What have you done lately to make you feel proud?”

Respect is earned, and that includes respecting ourselves.

And we earn our own self-respect when our intentions, our words, our actions and our results make us feel proud.

And most of the time, that will result in others respecting us as well.

That’s it for this month’s topic on Respect.

Next month’s episode will cover the topic of Understanding.

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