Respect and Engage Others

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

I have mentioned Women’s Edge Magazine ( in two posts this week.  As I was thinking about what to post today, I was drawn to two quotes I found in their January 2008 issue.

  • “Communicate respect in every encounter with every person, regardless of position or background.”  Robyn Hall, Raleigh Police Department
  • “Listen and speak at the same time, meaning that you actively engage people with your full attention.”  Judy Fourie, J. Fourie & Company

These are two pieces of great common sense advice for becoming known as an interpersonally competent person.

Respect is the key to building strong relationships with the people in your life – not just those who can do something for you, but everyone you meet.  Cathy, my wife, is a good example of this.  She makes friends with everyone, because she treats everyone with respect.  The dry cleaner, pharmacy clerks, mailman, paper delivery guy, our housekeeper, all love her because she treats them with the respect they deserve as fellow human beings.  She is genuinely interested in them as people.  This interest communicates her respect for them. 

Many people show a lot of respect for people above them in the hierarchy, and little respect for those below them.  This is too bad.  Often people below you can do as much or more for you than those above you.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that they’re people too, and as such, are entitled to your respect. 

The Optimist Creed has some great things to say about respect.  It encourages us to, “Promise yourself to make all your friends feel as if there is something in them…and to give every living creature you meet a smile.”   

The second quote is interesting for what it has to say about human interaction.  I like the idea of “listening and speaking at the same time.”  In other words, as you engage someone, listen very carefully to what he or she has to say so you can respond appropriately.  What you say should be directly related to what he or she has just said.  This demonstrates that you are listening.  It also demonstrates that you value what he or she says – a great way to show someone that you respect him or her.

Being fully engaged means that you shut out the distractions of the world and focus your attention on the person with whom you’re having a conversation.  People tell me that I seem to never answer my cell phone.  This is true.  I tell people that my cell phone is not a good way to contact me because it is usually off.  My cell phone is usually off because I am often in conversations with my clients.  I don’t want the distraction of a ringing or vibrating cell phone when I’m trying to concentrate on another person.

The two quotes at the beginning of this post are complimentary.  One of the best ways to show others that you respect them is to engage them.  One of the best ways to engage people is to listen to what they say and respond appropriately. 

If you keep these two pieces of common sense in mind as you meet people, you’ll be on your way to becoming known as an interpersonally competent person.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  I am not posting regularly on my blog right now, as I want to concentrate on this one.  It is still up though.  Please don’t cancel your RSS feed as I will be posting there occasionally.  And, you can still get a free ebook version of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations by visiting

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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