Pay attention to show respect…

June 8, 2021

“It’s hard for me to answer a question from someone who really doesn’t care about the answer.”  (Charles Grodin)

That was today’s quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack when on to relate a story about a remembering seeing a woman in his congregation elbowing her husband to keep him awake during the sermon.

I’ve written here a few times about being a good listener. It is a mark of respect for the speaker that you pay attention to what they are saying and not spend that time thinking about how you will be replying. Grodin’s quote points out a second benefit from paying attention – you can figure out from how the speaker is talking where they are coming from and whether or not they really care about what your opinion is on the topic.

Showing respect for the speaker doesn’t mean that you are agreeing with their position. It merely means that you respect their right to have an opinion and to express it. Too many people these days don’t show even that level of respect; rather they shout over the speaker, hoping to drown out the expression of the opinion that they disagree with.

With so much misinformation and disinformation circulating in our society it is sometimes hard to have a civil discourse on controversial topics. When one bases their point of view on things upon the base of bad information or untruths it is hard to discuss it with them and the conversation quickly turns into arguments about the source of their “facts” upon which they base their beliefs. The old hack, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true” is the only base that many have to stand upon.

An even more disturbing trend of late is the rather fluid definition of the term “facts”. Over the past year or two we have seen many TV interviews in which it was asserted that facts aren’t facts or that there are “alternative facts”.  The term “facts” has morphed from describing an accepted absolute into describing a belief, subject to change. I guess the relative term there is the word accepted. If one doesn’t accept a “fact”, there is a tendency to make up an alternative and call it a fact, when really it is a belief or point of view.

That leads me back to a variation on Grodin’s quote – It’s hard to argue the truth of a statement with someone who doesn’t care about the truth.

If one is not paying attention to what is being said in a conversation it is relatively easy to be drawn into an argument about the wrong thing. Instead of arguing against a belief one could inquire about the basis for that belief – the facts upon which it is based. It is not enough to just say, “That’s not true.” Remember that the person speaking believes it is true, but that they may have never taken the time to question the source of that belief. A discussion about the basis for that belief may be more productive than just a direct challenge to it. Of nothing else, maybe you can plant a seed of doubt in their mind about the basis of their opinion.

So, show respect for the right of others to have and to express an opinion. You may not agree with it and perhaps your knee-jerk reaction is to talk over it or to quickly move from conversation mode into an argument about it. Don’t go there. If you are paying attention, you will realize the futility of arguing the point with that person.   Better that you should add a note to your mental file about that person on their position on this topic – a topic perhaps to be avoided in the future.  If that file gets too big, this may be a person to avoid in the future.

In the end, showing enough respect for the other person to understand where they are coming from also shows respect for yourself by stifling the knee-jerk reaction to argue with them. You just saved yourself a frustrating waste of time. Respect yourself.


Show some respect…

February 21, 2021

My dog and I barely escaped being hit this morning on our walk when a driver blew thorough the intersection at which we were about half way across. Now this is no little, hidden intersection with a stop signed that might be missed. It is a well marked intersection with two blinking red lights and an illuminated STOP sign hung in the middle over the road. Fortunately, I could hear that the car was not slowing and pulled my dog back to safety. I yelled at the driver, who had his driver-side window half way down but he made no indication that he cared. I’m sure that had the window been all the way down he might have even flipped me the bird.

After I thanking God for once again saving me from danger, I thought about this particular incident and other instances that I see every week of drivers ignoring signs either to stop at an intersection or not to make certain turns. The word that kept popping into my head was disdain. While a certain number of these incidents might be attributed to distracted drivers not seeing the signs, most of them are obviously cases of people who see he signs but choose to ignore them. They are showing disdain for our laws and for the safety of others.

I looked up disdain, just to make sure that it is the appropriate word to associate with these people. Disdain is defined as –dis·dain

/disˈdān/

noun

the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt.

verb

consider to be unworthy of one’s consideration.

I think the word fits and it also points to a personality flaw in these people as a root cause – their egos. To disdain something or someone is to consider yourself to be so superior that you may judge them. Instead of taking a position like that of Pope Francis who said, ”Who am I to judge?” these people have taken the position of, ”I’ll be the judge of that. I don’t need your stinking laws and signs; I’ll decide whether to stop or turn at the sign or not.” They are showing disdain for the rest of society and for common decency. I suspect those who stormed the Capital Building a while back were showing their disdain for our county’s laws, the law makers and the rules of civil behavior.

In truth everything and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and consideration be given to how to interact with them. To act with disdain is to isolate oneself from the rest of society, to set yourself apart from, and above, the laws, rules or mores of that society. A society exists for the common good, but it can only exist if those within it abide by the rules and expectations of the rest of the group.  If each of use can no longer expect that a person driving a car will abide by the stop signs or no turn on red signs or whatever instructions are clearly posted for the goods of the society, then we devolve into anarchy.

So the next time you are tempted to make that turn on red or roll through that stop sign and keep going, remember that you are showing disdain. Is that what you really want your kids to see or other to see from you? It is not just a reflection on your behavior, which is bad enough; it is a lesson that you are teaching others who are watching, an example that can have lasting bad effects on young minds. Try showing them the opposite – respect. Respect for the laws of our society and for others within that society.

I leave you with the words of the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Aretha Franklin from the1980 movie The Blues Brothers. Show a little respect for the rules of our society when you get behind the wheel and all the time.


Make somebody’s day…appreciate them…

December 4, 2017

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back comes this little gem –

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.”  (Sent by Paul McCullough)

I suspect that there are many things that McCullough could have put after the words “will always…” in his quote. Things like “feel better” come instantly to mind. There are also other words that come to mind to replace the word appreciated that also ring true…words like respected or even loved.

One of the things that the Special Olympics does at their version of the Olympics is to make sure that every Special Olympian  who participates gets a medal. They don’t focus upon only rewarding the “winners” in each event; but, rather recognize all of those who made the effort… they appreciate the effort and all of the athletes who compete are the better for it and feel better about themselves.

hugging-bearsIn our daily lives there are probably lots of people who do things for us that normally go unnoticed and unappreciated. There’s the bus driver who helps get us to work or maybe the guard at the guard shack who there to help insure our safety. Maybe it’s the day-care worker who takes care of our children while we work or the lunch room worker or the waitress who is there to server our noon-time meal. It may be the paper delivery person who has to get up at 4 AM in the morning each day to go get the papers and deliver their routes. Perhaps it one of the many retail people that we may encounter during the day.

These are all people who in some small way make your day better and you have the opportunity to make their day better by appreciating what they do for you. Many of great-jobthese people blend into the background and become just a part of the environment to us. We only recognize them when something doesn’t go as we wish and we complain about it and them. We may call their managers in anger over some perceived slight in the service; but, how many call just to tell that manager what great service they gave us?

We have the power to change that. A simple thank you may put a smile of their faces. Sure, we may leave a tip on the table for the waitress; but, how often do we take the time to thank them for their service and tell them that we appreciate that they are there?  I have a friend who is a life coach who never misses the opportunity to tell others how much he appreciates what they do for others in their volunteer work in the community or for their ideas and contributions in meetings. It’s a small thing, but one that he takes the time to do whenever he can. I’m sure that it makes those whom he compliments feel better for having their efforts and contributions  be recognized.

old cooupleSometimes this tendency to ignore and not appreciate them extends to our life partners, especially to the career-oriented men in the relationship. Call it complacency or just laziness, we sometimes become so self-centered that take for granted all that a spouse does for us to make our life better. The cooking and cleaning and housekeeping and laundry and child care all seem to fade into the background and become unappreciated expectations, rather than something that could be and should be acknowledged and appreciated. It takes only a moment of your time to give your partner a hug and tell them how much you appreciate the meal that they just served, even though you may have no real appreciation of how much time and effort went into the making that meal.

So, start out this week with appreciation of others in mind and be alert to those that you handshakeencounter to whom you can show appreciation. It should start at home, but there are countless other opportunities throughout the day to show appreciation to others and make their day better because of it. You may be thinking, “what difference can it make?”; however remember that the great majority of people just don’t make the effort. You can be the one bright moment in that person’s life today and that’s a great opportunity that will make you feel better, too.

Let me start by saying that I appreciate that you took the time to read this post and I hope it helps make your day better for having read it. Thank you, I appreciate you. Now, go out and find someone else to appreciate.

 


It all starts with me…

December 14, 2016

“The Buck Stops Here” (President Harry S. Truman) Truman had a sign that had that little saying on his desk in the White House and he used that phrase in speeches. There is anbuck-stops-here interesting story about the sign on Truman’s office and the origin of that phrase at the Truman Library web site. Truman, and many who have followed since, used that phrase to indicate that rather than “pass the buck” the buck would stop with them and they would make a decision. It is useful for making personal decisions in many facets of life, such as dealing with bullying or dealing with prejudice or continuing to look the other way and allow any number of injustices to continue. It is all too easy to pass the buck, rather than have the buck stop here- with you.

I wrote a post here yesterday about the lack of respect (and from that a lack of civility) in our modern political system and our society in general. A reader commented on that post, “Norm, you are so very right. Where has it gone and when can we get it back?” That sparked the Respect2thought that it really isn’t just about the buck stopping here, with me (or you); but, also the fact that the different behavior that is needed to combat that lack of respect and civility must start with me, too. It starts with me showing respect for the opinions of others, even if I don’t agree with their option or point of view on things. There are ways to respectfully disagree without resorting to screaming or name calling. Rather than waste my time and yours trying to denigrate you and your position, I need to focus upon doing a better job trying to understand your position and searching for some common ground upon which we might be able to find compromise.

So the answer to that question from my reader about how to recover the lost respect and civility in life is that we get it back when we start giving it back. We resist the reflex to jab back at the person taunting us or belittling our position or beliefs. We turn the otherdisagreement2 cheek. (Where have we heard that before?) Maybe, instead of just blurting back, “You’re wrong”, we could say instead, “I see that we have different opinions on this; is there anything about it that we can agree upon?” There may not initially be any apparent common ground; but, just changing the situation from a confrontation into a conversation may defuse what otherwise might escalate into something that you both regret later. We can start by respecting that we have differences and being civil about it. See how that works..

I also wrote recently about dealing with people who are looking at life through completely different lens that we can even imagine. (See – Trying to understand others without a frame of reference…) While the example used in that post and the follow-on post about Depression are examples of frames of personal reference (lens if you will) that are a little further out of the norm, they are examples of how things can be seen and opinions formed based upon different perspectives on life. The differences in the frames of reference discussed in those posts may have been extreme; however, something similar seems to looking-through-glasses-lenshave happened in our everyday lives, especially in the aspects that deal with politics.

The lens that we “see” things through in order to formulate those political opinions are often not internal, but those that are held up for us to look through by the politicians of our times. Sometimes they are charismatic charmers who can convince us to walk through fire with them in order to do the “right thing”. Sometimes they tap into our darker side and encourage us to let out the anger and frustration that we may have bottled up. We have the choice of forming ourWWJD own opinions by looking through the lenses that are held up by others or by choosing our own lens and view of things. If we really need an external lens to look through, we might do better by looking through the lens of the Bible and the “truths” that we will find there, rather than the “truths” that we see in a political ad or a tweet.

So, where does it start? How do we get back from the lack of civility and respect that we find ourselves in today? The simple truth is that it starts with me. I postulate that if I, and every other “I” out there, decided to be more respectful of differences and more civil in my interactions with others; eventually there start-with-mewould be enough “I’s” being respectful; and civil to others that it would turn us into “we” and then everything would be better. “We” would be living in a more respectful and civil world. I like that; and it starts with me.

How about you? Would you like to make your “I” a part of “We”? It starts with you, too.


R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

December 13, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post – “We don’t need to have the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”  (Taylor Swift)

Jack went on to also write – “Is anyone teaching manners these days?  I’ve read that how people treat others reveals how they feel about themselves.  How are you feeling today?  I like Taylor’s comment on the importance of being respectful.    😉  Jack

Aretha Franklin had a hit song about RESPECT and the Staple Singers had a hit called Respect Yourself. I suspect that what Jack was saying starts with the second song and then deals with the first one. You can’t respect others if you don’t respect yourself. Showing disrespect and contempt for the opinions of others is just inviting them to return the favor about your position on things.

debatersIn the current loud and fractious political environment in the United States, respect and good behavior seemed to have been trampled under the heavy boots of partisan politics. As the gulf has widened between the major political groups, they have lost the ability to even hear the other’s side of the story, much less respect the differences. Both sides seem to have reached the “my way or the highway” position on their opinions and disdain has replaced disrespect in the conversations. In fact the conversations themselves have devolved into shouting matches.

One doesn’t have to look far below the surface of the shouting and apparent anger to see that the root cause – fear. The hints are actually in the phrases that are used on both sides, like “take back our country” on one side and “continue the fight forwinner-loser social, racial and economic justice” on the other. One side fears that “those people” are taking things away from us; while the other side fears that “those people” are preventing us from having equal opportunity. Both sides fear the other and see the other side’s success as taking something away from their side. Both sides view the world as a zero-sum game in which the outcome must be a winner and a loser. The position taken by both sides is “I’m right and you’re wrong”. There is no respect in this game.

There has always been a difference of opinion and approach to matters between the so-hands-across-the-gapcalled conservative and liberal factions within government. In days long gone the crack that divided the two groups was just that – a crack. It was a gap in thinking and approach to government that could be easily bridged or crossed. There were many politicians on both sides who crossed back and forth on issues, based on what they perceived to be for the good of the county. Due in many ways to the recent (relatively speaking) focus on social issues by our politicians, that crack or gap has now widened into a chasm which politicians on either side find to be too politically dangerous to cross. So they stand on bridging-the-chasmeach side of the divide hurling insults at each other across the chasm. No attempt is even made to build bridges between the opposing ideologies. They totally lack respect for each other.

There is little hope that the strident politicians that occupy the banks of the current political chasm will find a way to bridge that gap. In fact, they do not see any political advantage to trying to build that bridge. They find comfort in joining in on the shouting from their side of the chasm and encouraging even more strident views. They have become “US” and they have no respect for “THEM”.

What is the solution? Perhaps it is not to try to bridge the chasm, but rather to jump into it and build a new, third party from the bottom of that pit that can represent a way of governing without such rancor. There are many historic precedents in international politics for the creation of more moderate and centrist political parties. Instead of standing on the sides of the chasm and yelling that “government is too big” or “government is not doing enough”; perhaps this new party could focus more on what government can do to better serve the people that it governs. Instead of being focused upon the “haves” and the “have-nots”, this new party could focus on the needs. Maybe we do need to spend more time and money fixing what needs fixing here at home, but we must always be concerned about the wrongs that are occurring elsewhere in the world and new-way-forwardhelping where we can to make them right. This new party could start by showing respect to the people and the real problems at hand.

Rather than fighting a rear-guard battle against change to the world as we knew it; maybe we need to embrace a new world and a new political party that is more diverse in every way than has been the case in the past. We can’t go back; but, we can do better going forward. Let’s show some respect for the real issues and the solutions. It’s just a thought.

In the meantime, maybe we can all go back to kindergarten and re-learn what they tried to teach us there about RESPECT.


RESPECT…is that the secret to a good relationship/ marriage?

August 4, 2016

I deal with a good number of home sales that are precipitated by divorces; so, I get to hear about the issues that caused those failed marriages. One such conversation brought up the topic of respect for each other as a key (in that particular case probably THE key) to the success or failure of a relationship or marriage.

Leading up to that conclusion from my discussion partner, I had shared my observations Respect1that marriages, in order to be successful over time, had to be based upon things more substantial than the initial physical attraction that may have led to the marriage in the first place. I hadn’t really put a word to those things before, but respect seems to be an appropriate choice.

Couples who don’t respect each other end up in unbalanced relationships. One partner may come to think of their partner as somehow a junior partner intellectually or in terms of contribution to the marriage, because they don’t respect the thoughts, opinions or feelings of their mate or don’t put much value on the things that they are contributing to the marriage on a daily basis. This type of marriage usually results in one partner dominating the other in ways that eventually become so onerous that the marriage dissolves. It is not that hard to tell Respect3when one partner had no respect for the other; but it is hard to take over time. Marriages involving a so-called “throphy-wife” come to mind. There is often little respect involved in those unions.

So, instead of just tossing off a casual “I love you” from time to time; try saying “I respect you” and then stop to think about what saying that entails. You are saying, I value and respect your opinion on things and want to hear it before we make decisions about things that are important in our lives. You are admitting that the things that you do to make out home what it is and to raise our children are as important, maybe even more so, that the things that I may do at work each day to earn our income. In two-income families you’re really saying that I respect the job you have and the contributions that you make to our livelihood. You are also saying that I recognize and admire the things that you do every day for me and I hope I can do some things for you, too. Self-esteem is how you keep yourself together; respect is how you keep your relationship together. Both are essential to a happy married life.

Respect in the marriage also means that you must understand and appreciate that your partner needs to have their own time, their own interests and their own privacy, when they want it; that they have not given those things up entirely to enter into this relationship with you. You need to respect them as their own person just as you expect that respect for you. It’s not all aboutRespect2 me or even all about us as a couple; it’s really all about mutually respecting the two individuals who have chosen to go through life together. You both have feelings and thoughts and opinions that the other needs to respect, even if they can’t quite understand them. Accept them, respect them and move on together. Also remember that respect in a relationship is a 2-way street – you don’t earn it unless you give it.

So maybe Aretha Franklin had it right in her rendition of the song RESPECT – all you need is a little bit of RESPECT to make things work. Give some thought to the level of respect that you currently have for your life partner and make the effort to examine your own expectations, behavior and efforts in making things in your relationship work. If you can’t say that you respect your partner, perhaps you are in a union that will not work over the long run. If you can honestly say that you respect your partner, then you have a great chance of making the relationship work.

Have a great and respectful relationship!


No single way is always the right way…

January 11, 2016

“6+3=9, but so does 5+4.  The way you do things is not always the only way.  Respect other people’s way of thinking.”  (Facebook Posting) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today.

Also in the news in today’s Oakland Press was a story about Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson stating that he is in favor of theexclusion constitutional amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would protect the GLBT community from discrimination. Patterson is a well-known Republican conservative, but has also recognized the ugliness and hate that comes with discrimination. He is basically saying – respect other people’s way of living.

My wife often has to admonish me when I say something or do something that corrects or questions her way of thinking or doing things. She has her own way of doing things and it is often not the way that I would do it; so, that makes it “not the right way” in my mind (at least until I’m reminded to think more about it.) In addition to asking me to mind my own business, she is gently (sometimes not so much) telling me to – respect other people’s way of living.

I am reminded of the many stories in the Bible of the pharisees and priests who were aghast at the things that Jesus did, both in the temples and in Jesus in templegeneral. Our modern day pharisees are the moralizing, so-called Christian evangelicals who seem to spend more time criticizing the lives of others than putting their own lives in order. Like the high priests and pharisees of old, these modern day pharisees are sure that they occupy the moral high-ground and that their way is the only right way to live. And like those hypocrites of old, they try to take actions to correct or discriminate against those who choose to live differently. In modern times this holier-than-thou group uses political power to try to legitimize their discrimination through laws (or lack of laws) aimed at those who are “different.” They wrap themselves in a false morality that does not – respect other people’s way of living.

This same group of modern day pharisees is at the core of the current movement to also discriminate against those who practice religions different from theirs: since, obviously, their religion is the only correct one. They completely miss the irony that this country was founded by opinionatedpeople who were immigrants escaping religious persecution due to the fact they the religion that they practiced at the time was different from the prevailing religion in England and Europe. It is convenient also to forget about the threat that their immigration to America posed to the Native Americans who were already here. They essentially took the country from those who owned it at the time. Imagine if the Native Americans had enacted a law stopping the flow of these refugees from religious persecution from entering America because they posed a threat. Maybe that would have solved everything. The early settlers obviously did not – respect other people’s way of living.

I suspect that if we all focused upon doing a better job of being ourselves, instead of focusing upon the lives of others, we would all be in a better
place. Instead of spending time working about what negative impact people who choose to live in GLBT lives will have on us or being concerned about people who practice a religion that is different from ours; perhaps we should spend more time living our lives such that they will have a positive impact on those that we meet. Maybe if we are all kinder, more compassionate, more caring and more helpful to others; they will act the same to diversityus in return, no matter what lifestyle they choose to live. In the end, wouldn’t that make the whole world a better place in which to live? It would, because it would be a place in which we all would – respect other people’s way of living

The reality is that the only person that we really have control over is ourselves and many of us haven’t been doing that great of a job with thatbridgiing gaps responsibility, much less worrying about how others live. We need to focus less on others and more on doing the right things ourselves to make sure that we aren’t becoming modern day pharisees and discriminating against those with lives that are different from ours. So, as we begin a new week maybe, before we leave the house today we can resolve to – respect other people’s way of living.