Demonstrating Respect - The Character Series, Part 2


To me, the most intolerable people at work are those who “brown-nose” up, and “kick” down. In other words, those who play the servant pleaser with their boss, but use pressure and humiliation with their subordinates. 

My skin crawls remembering a few people who behaved like that, who have crossed my path during my professional life.

The worst one was a Director, who seemed to have glued himself to the bottom of the General Manager: attentive, witty, smiling, soft-spoken, always keen to serve. The moment the General Manager was nowhere to be seen, he would pressure and humiliate his subordinates, scheme against some of his peers, and behave like a bully.

I was in my 20’s then. But I saw! I saw right through the charade, and I surely wasn’t the only one.

And it riddled me beyond comprehension, HOW ON EARTH was this tolerated? How could that General Manager NOT have noticed this lack of disrespect? This absolute disregard to the dignity of others?

The character flaws that this story shows include the absence respect, kindness, love, fairness, and even civility.

While respect is a worthy character trait in itself, it’s impossible to make respect a life principle if we don’t believe in the universal value of kindness, love, fairness and civility, too!


From my story you can garner that our Director actually WAS demonstrating respect! He was extremely respectful to our then General Manager, and to some few of his peers. Just not to anyone who wasn’t in any position that could forward his own agenda.

However, this is the great counterfeit move: it’s fake respect. It’s respect given selectively only to those who can do something for you! It looks like respect from the outside, but it really is just counterfeit, and therefore doesn’t yield any of the benefits that a true demonstration of respect would.

Never ever put anyone like that into any position of power! It’s a sure sign of a major deficit of character.

Now, how come that our Director even got into this position of power?

Like most individuals with this particular deficit of character, he was a great performer. Highly educated. Very smart. On the IQ front, that is. Not so much on EQ, apparently.

The lesson for every leader who seeks to promote another person into a leadership position, is that we need to look BEYOND the behaviours we observe from the other person towards us. Being curious to learn how the person behaves towards others allows us to uncover counterfeit behaviours for what they really are.

Here is an example on how to do that:

A friend of mine, a VP, used to frequently interview candidates for high level positions. Following the interview with the candidate - who may have made the best of impressions - she went to interview the receptionist about how the candidate treated her while they were waiting for the job interview to begin. If the candidate has been a jerk, being disrespectful and entitled already at the reception counter, my friend would know!  A thumbs down from the receptionist lead to several candidate rejections, and the team stayed jerk-free.

Demonstrating respect, when it’s based on the embodiment of worthy character traits, shows as genuinely caring for others, and actually showing that we care.

Demonstrating respect means to uphold the dignity of every person and every role. 

When the act of demonstrating respect is based on worthy life principles, then we treat everyone with respect. And we especially don’t stop at those who can’t do anything for us!

We cannot be selective with respectful behaviour! We either demonstrate respect always, or it simply is not part of our character!