**Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from The Respect Effect: Leveraging Culture, Emotions and Neuroscience to Build a Better Business by Paul Meshanko

All paths we take toward others eventually circle back to ourselves. Even if you personally make the commitment to practice respect, not everyone you meet will do the same. Some won’t take the time and energy necessary to engage you or find common ground on issues. Others may not demonstrate that they value you as a person. They’ll show up late for important meetings, interrupt you while you speak and harshly criticize your ideas without being brave enough to offer their own. There will be those who occasionally yell and use vulgar language, attack you personally and lie. There are also individuals who will say or do things we interpret as disrespectful not out of malice or spite, but simply out of ignorance. When we commit to a path of respect, we do so in spite of these eventualities because it reflects who we are at our core.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. – Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Respect is about you and me, not “them,” and our commitment to it influences everyone around us. Once we understand the value proposition respect offers, that insight can provide us with patience, courage and creativity.

  • Patience permits us to maintain our composure and respectful demeanor when others are not acting at their best.
  • Courage enables us to candidly challenge disrespectful behaviors and actions directed toward others.
  • Creativity allows us to see points of connection, even in the midst of conflict.

When we bring these qualities on-line and into our work interactions, everyone benefits, including our peers, customers, vendors and ultimately, our shareholders.

I think back to my college friend Dale and am thankful that he showed me respect even when I didn’t necessarily deserve it. In retrospect, he likely did so as much for himself as he did for me; it was simply an active demonstration to himself of the person he chose to be. I just happened to be a lucky recipient. I’d also like to think that his commitment to himself paid future dividends through me to my current colleagues and others that he’ll never meet.

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