I Don’t Want To Respect You

I Don’t Want To Respect You

And I don’t want your respect, either. A lot of folks in the Lean community stress the importance of respect. And yes, respect sounds nice – and might indeed be an improvement on the less-than-respectful way many folks relate to each other in workplaces today.

But respect (root: specere – to look at; re – back, or again) implies judgement. Moralistic judgement. And there’s no way I want to judge you – or anyone for that matter. God knows I’m having enough trouble weening myself off that particular human foible.

So, if I’m not happy to respect people, what then? Disrespect? Indifference?

No. I’m happy when I can give – and receive – some empathy. Just being fully present for people, during their crises, during their joyful moments. Any time, really. Oh, and some compassion sweetens the deal. And from empathy, it’s but a short hop, skip and jump to attending to folks’ needs. And the joy that can bring to all concerned.

And if you tell me I have no choice. That I should respect people. That I have to respect people. Then that upsets me.

I guess that puts me beyond the pale, as far as the Lean folks go. Although, in their frame, perhaps they might be willing to find it in themselves to respect my point of view?

Or, perhaps, the choice of the word “respect” is a rather unfortunate error of translation. Perhaps the original Japanese term 人間性尊重 as used by Toyota, meaning

“Holding precious what it is to be human”

would have been more helpful? I feel that’s something I can get behind. Indeed, it’s very similar to Marshall Rosenberg’s stated purpose for Nonviolent Communication:

“Connecting with what’s alive in others and ourselves.”

How about you?

– Bob

Further Reading

The Equally Important “Respect For People” Principle ~ Bob Emiliani
Exploring the “Respect for People” Principle of the Toyota Way ~ Jon Miller
Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication ~ Marshall Rosenberg
Aikido – The Way Of Harmonious Spirit ~ Elizabeth Reninger

  1. Great article. What about respecting your or other people’s needs?

    • Sounds very passive and non-engaged to me. I’d much rather be actively attending to them. 🙂

      – Bob

  2. Gary said:

    wow this does not track with how I have been thinking about respect at all. If you separate observation from judgement (not that easy though a worthy goal) than respect can simply be looking deeply at the true self or the opposite of objectification or judgement. To me looking again sounds like a good first step towards connecting with empathy

  3. Irene said:

    For me respecting someone has two dimensions.
    I can respect people for something they do or stand for. However, when I think about respecting people in general that means something different. It’s more in a sense of acknowledging that there is someone else with needs, opionions, … which are just as valid as mine.

    Thinking about it I really like to idea of respect = look again. It’s the first look with which I judge. The second will allow me to take off these glasses and look without judgement, look at what’s behind.

  4. Tobias said:

    Glad you wrote this.I find that respect is such an overused word that it really has no meaning any longer. Try finding someone who believes they are /not/ respectful. I find it very patronizing when methodologies (or whatever you call them) like Lean and Scrum emphasize respect as a value, as if people who practice these things didn’t have it before. It’s so phony. I prefer instead to focus on kindness, love and unconditional positive regard. There is more /action/ in those things. Respect, let’s face it, is insipid.

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