The other day I was stopped in traffic behind a car that had a bumper sticker that read, “Tolerance – Believe In It.”

Maybe, you’ve seen it before. As you can see it’s purple (that color we associate with diversity apparently) and tolerance is spelled out using different religious symbols to embody that yes, we are tolerant, because we are displaying everyone’s religion – at least all the major ones!

As I’ve said before, tolerance is great but respect is so much better. Tolerance is passive, whereas respect is active. If I tolerate you, I am not really exerting much effort. Hey, I could ignore you and still tolerate you.

But to respect you, I will need to get to know you. I will have to actively seek out ways to engage you. Ways that require more than slapping a bumper sticker on my car!

What this means for the workplace

If I have to tolerate you at work that means I am not seeking you out for new ideas or willing to collaborate with you. I may just be giving you what little effort I have to get by on a daily basis. I am not really engaged with you and that ultimately affects the entire organization.

But if I respect you, I will go out of my way to help you and even seek out your advice. I will share ideas with you that I know will benefit the organization. I might even collaborate with you on a project and may learn something new about you or myself. In the end, I will be a better worker if I respect you and the organization.

Only then should you go out and slap a respect bumper sticker and promote it to everyone you come into contact with!