How Do You Define Respect?

Respect – it always starts with you!

I have always been fascinated with how respect is defined by different people from different cultures and backgrounds. Sure, upbringing and social status have some bearing, but so are individuality traits and psychological makeup. Meaning, two brothers from the same family could interpret it differently and demonstrate it in their interactions with others differently. One of my first encounters with defining respect, occurred when I was merely, 11 or 12, my father had sent me during a summer vacation to a general store near the summer home; we had rented, to purchase a tool that he needed to fix a broken cupboard. I was given directions, but I was not familiar with the town, after following my dad’s directions and map and asking couple of people, I was elated to finally find the store. I proceeded directly to the counter and asked for the tool, an elderly gentlemen crouching in chair, that almost looked as if he was 100 years old, was looking at me with a disapproving face and shaking his head as if I had done something awful, he asked me to approach him and in a very gentle and faint voice, told me that I should show respect to the store and the workers before I demand attention and service, I had no idea what was the old man saying, I did not do anything wrong, what was that all about? I never mentioned the incident to my dad and completely forgot about it. Almost 20 years later, I returned to this town and was shopping with my cousin, who was only 18 at the time, what he did when we entered the first shop astonished me and made me go back to that summer almost 20 years ago. Upon entering the shop, my cousin, in a very audible voice, uttered; greetings everyone and may god bless us with a happy day, thereafter, he proceeded to shake hands with the owner and the rest of the workers, continuing in pleasant exchange that must have been very interesting since all were very engaged and completely drawn to his presence like a magnet, even, dumb-witted me was able to discern what was taking place.  After we left the shop, I asked my cousin, do you know these people? He shrugged his shoulder and said no, I have only been there once before. So, what was that all about? He mentioned that his dad, my uncle, had taught him that he must pay his respect to the shop and the people working there by greeting them and shaking their hands before he asks for service.

It is all about respect and how it could be demonstrated

Well, never too late to learn a valuable lesson. From that date, I became extremely sensitive to the issue of respect and how are simple things, such as a smile, a greeting or what you say or don’t say, how you posture or walk, sit, enter or exit a room, even facial expressions could have a significant impact on everything we do including the outcome.  It is all about respect and how it could be demonstrated. The other lesson that I learned, was never judge or render due respect based on who you think merit your respect, everyone merit our respect equally and without qualification.

I must admit being a financial guy who spent a good deal of time as an auditor and a natural skeptic before moving into financial operations, it was kind of difficult to refrain from judging and gauging people based on presentation, attire or what we heard about them, it is certainly not easy to show respect first before engaging and determining through our skeptical and analytical minds if it was merited. One thing that has help me retrain myself is an advice from one of my mentors; always proceed with giving value first when you meet someone new, I guess the first value to give is be the first to extend  a hand for a warm hand shake then proceed to be helpful and understanding by allowing people to talk first and for me to listen.

Max A. Elghandour, Partner

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photo credit: DiariVeu – 601109181 via photopin (license)

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