Monday, January 12, 2009


“...Find out what it means to me,” began Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot in a speech (Boston, November 2008) which re-resonates with me as I reflect on it, thinking about core values. What are our core-values? Is respect amongst them? And what does respect mean to each of us? Do we confuse it with civility - with habit and ritual decorum? Do we confuse it with coded labels and other masks of political correctness? Do we think we should give it because of deference to status and hierarchy or out of a desire to avoid punishment, shame, or embarrassment? Respect. What is at its centre and what is its role in our work and lives?

I am not going answer all my questions. I want simply to capture and share some of Sara’s ‘Six dimensions of Respect’:

* Offering others the knowledge, skills and resources needed (Empowerment)
* Nourishing feelings of worthiness, wholeness and well-being (Healing)
* Feeling good about ourselves resulting from growing self-confidence that doesn’t seek external validation (Self-Respect)
* Encouraging authentic communication: listening carefully and responding authentically (Dialogue)
* Wanting to know who people are, their stories, dreams, thoughts and feelings (Curiosity)
* Offering full, undiluted attention; being fully present (Attention)

If respect is indeed one of our core-values, as individuals, teams or organizations, what more can we do in each of these dimensions? Sara provides some lessons of her own (see Respect: An Exploration), but rather than give those here I think this would be an interesting conversation to have amongst ourselves first. Any takers?