The only people who get my immediate attention and respect
are police officers, fire fighters and soldiers, and it's likely their uniforms
have a lot to do with that. I hold all others, regardless of title, wealth, or status,
at arm's length until they prove their value. I'm certainly not alone in this.
Having manager, director, or president in your title doesn't
mean much of anything until you earn your position by proving your value. Even
my new doctor with her scrubs and stethoscope had to earn her position with me.
(She fast-tracked my rigorous value test by spending 20 unscheduled minutes
learning about what makes me tick besides my circulatory system.)
I can recall many examples of colleagues floundering after
getting promoted to management positions or coming into teams wearing big titles.
They thought respect, like the extra cash, automatically showed up with their
Your title will get you in the door, but no further. It
won't guarantee you'll be respected, sought out for your expertise, or even
heard. Your value and the respect that comes with it will be determined by your
actions. The more you respect others, the more you'll be respected. The more
questions you ask, the more you'll be sought out. The more you're willing to
acquiesce to the authority that comes with knowledge, not title, the more your
guidance will be followed.
Earning it once isn't enough; you have to keep it. Remember
my new doctor? Not only does she need to maintain her license and what I
imagine to be a boat-load of certifications, she needs to hold my respect. If,
during my next office visit, she treats me like a patient and not a person,
she'll get demoted from My Primary Physician to the Person Who Writes My
Prescriptions Until I Find a Better Doctor.
So, if Rodney Dangerfield's famous "I get no respect" line
is your new battle cry, or you feel you're being left out of decisions involving
what's supposed to be "your turf," perhaps you need to renew your respect
certificate. If you're unsure where to start, simply open your ears and close
your mouth-unless you're asking a sincere question.
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