Word Study: Respect

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Mean faces, name calling, yelling in anger, and spitting all seem to be par for the course when it comes to raising young boys — at least in my house. I’m not sure if it was a stroke of genius, desperation, or some combination of the two, but we decided to try something new at dinner the other night.

I posted a paper on the wall that said “RESPECT,” in impact font, of course. During dinner we brainstormed some of the different ways we can respect each other, surrounding the paper with Post-it notes. Here’s the list we came up with:

  • Keep the spit in our mouths
  • Use kind words and faces
  • Speak at a normal volume, not yelling
  • Be kind to each other
  • Treat each other’s things with care
  • Calm down and discuss instead of arguing. It’s OK to be angry but not OK to be disrespectful
  • Allow the other person to finish speaking
  • Keep our hands and feet to ourselves
  • Give each other space
  • Obey our parents
  • Take deep breaths
  • Do what is right even when no one is watching
  • Tell the truth

We then all signed our names under the word respect and agreed to do our best to better respect each other. Even the dog signed it — though it’s doubtful he’ll improve much.

The thing I found most powerful about this exercise was having my kids come up with the list rather than dictating it to them. One can only tell a kid to stop doing many of these things so many times before realizing that it’s time to change the approach. By having them create the list, it first proved they understood how to be respectful, and second, increased their buy-in. And we’ve referenced this list several times since the exercise.

As you aim to get your employees to buy in to the company values, how has adding those values to the company website, painting them on the office wall, and posting them above the urinals in the bathroom helped employees better live the values? I’m guessing those methods have been largely ineffective.

Your values will come alive in new ways the more your employees have personal ownership in the way those values are fleshed out. Try this exercise both at home and at work and see if you don’t get stronger buy-in to your values than if you carried the laws down from the mountain on stone tablets.

On that note, what are some of the ways you’ve found most effective in getting people to buy-in to the values in your organization? Leave us a comment below.

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  • Hi Jeremy – in the same way you had your sons actively work with the word, one of the best ways to get employees to embrace and act out the company values is for them to practice using them. For example, if one of your values is “boldness”, in a team meeting, when an employee makes a suggestion, challenge them to think bigger. The suggestion might be a great one, but is there an even bolder step-up to the suggestion? Have boldness become part of your vernacular. Like you did with your sons, have the team define the word bold and share examples of how employees can incorporate being bold into their daily work. Practice makes it habitual.

    On a side note, I did giggle a few times at some of the respect bullet points your boys came up with. The spit one got me. 🙂

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