“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”–Taylor Swift
My teacher daughter (my, times does fly), recently attended her school’s 8th grade basketball game. One parent was over-the-top in spending the entire first quarter yelling at the referee. My daughter who was raised to speak her truth, not her mind, said she just couldn’t take it any longer. Especially considering how often she witnesses parents model poor behavior in front of their child. She approached the angry parent and said with clarity, sincerity and respect, “There are currently unfilled referee jobs available at the district. Perhaps you would like to apply.” She shared he quieted down the remainder of the game.
Not long ago, a Deptford, New Jersey judge, imposed an unusual sentence on an out-of-control parent who was behaving like a blankety-blank at a youth baseball game. The parent was so obnoxious, “in your face” and argumentative, the police had to be called in to quell the situation. This precipitated a summons and a visit to the courtroom.
The judge, a wise person indeed, sentenced the parent to officiate at three games. From all reports, the angry parent got a good taste of their own medicine and has had a remarkable attitude shift.
Before I leave the referee comments, let me say that my travels have allowed me to meet many fine people who were, or are, officials. They are quitting in droves due to all kinds of abuse and virtually all were volunteers or were paid a pittance.
It comes down to respect
Remember the famous “Man in the Arena” speech by Theodore Roosevelt? I’ll quote just a bit from it:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…”
Sadly, many in our midst are far too willing to accuse, criticize, comment and judge. And, due to the rise of social media, they often do so anonymously.
Anyone who doubts the lack of respect that has become so prevalent need only observe how some of our fellow acquaintances talk to waitstaff, custodians, teachers, coaches, nurses, bus drivers, ride-sharing drivers, gardeners and hotel clerks.
Personally, I have a difficult time remaining friends with someone who is obnoxious toward those who serve. Perhaps it is because I was in service jobs and came from a humble family.
The lack of respect has become more of a societal pandemic than COVID-19 could ever duplicate. In fact, many of my clients who serve the public state that people are angrier now and they’re having to upskill teams to deal with this abuse. No wonder so many teachers and healthcare workers, who were driven to near exhaustion during the pandemic flat-out quit. What finalized their decisions to leave? The sheer rudeness of others. What were the effects of the migration of these professionals on society? Irreparable damage. It takes years to become a great healthcare worker or teacher.
It comes down to respect. As the Taylor Swift quote implies, no one is asking us to always agree with the decisions of an official or to be happy with the wait time whether that’s in an overcrowded emergency room or for a team member to return a much-needed answer, but to at least be respectful. For the most part, people are doing their best.
Returning to a more respectful society
There are actions we can take in our own lives, and that we should come to expect of others to help restore respect. Here are 5 takeaways on the subject of getting back respect:
- Show up with solutions, not complaints. The wise judge in Deptford, New Jersey understood this. Got a complaint? Want to take it out on someone? What solution do you offer? Social media is famous for complaints, arguments and whining however, most complainers never offer solutions.
- Be curious. Learn more about their role and them as individuals. Frustrated? Think you could do a better job? Unless you’ve performed that role before you have no clue what pressures, deliverables or expectations are required whether the role is one of your colleague’s, a barista or a volunteer. And regarding volunteers, look at them. There are a million other things they could be doing. They choose to make a difference, a personal commitment in what has all-too-often become a self-centered, narcissistic world.
- Choose feedback vs frustration. Have ideas for speeding up wait-times or for improving customer service? Share them with those in control or supervision. If feedback is shared respectfully and kindly, you will often get thanked and heard. No one likes making others angry or frustrated but often the solutions to mitigating the situations are unknown. You can be an agent of change.
- Empathy. When I have ever seen an out-of-control person who stands there, or shouts or points out everything wrong, I am usually witnessing someone who has traded-in empathy and compassion for self-centeredness and criticism. Please see yourself in “the other.” Respect others with as much respect as you would you like to receive in the same position.
- Speak your truth, not your mind. When you speak your mind, it’s about being right. Speaking your truth is about getting it right. Saying what needs to be said with clarity, sincerity and respect to help or improve the situation. And do your best to speak up when you witness another being disrespected rather than remain silent. Yes, you take a personal risk, but together we’re stronger.
Wherever respect has gone, let’s get it back by choosing thoughtful words that are kind and supportive. We are all in this life together.