The Shocking Truth about Disrespect and How to Overcome It

By Dan Rockwell

Those who aren’t committed find fault.

Those who are committed find a way.

It might feel good to ‘put people in their place,’ but the consequences of disrespect aren’t worth the pleasures of feeling superior.

Disrespect inflames. You can get along with people who disagree, but you can’t tolerate feeling disrespected.

Feeling disrespected results in:

  1. Armoring up.
  2. Closed minds.
  3. Self-justification.
  4. Attack.
  5. Isolation.


Respect is approval.

To show respect is to look on someone or something with approval. Praise is a form of approval. Glory is an intensified form of approval. A little boy saluting his dad a recent Toyota commercial is showing approval.

You’ve worked to feel approval most of your life.

  1. A smiley face on a school paper in first grade.
  2. Cheers from dad when you scored a goal.
  3. A ‘well done’ from a boss.

We spend our lives gaining enough self-awareness to overcome the need for approval. Receiving approval might become less necessary, but it feels mighty fine.

3 powers of giving approval:

#1. Approval sets direction.

People move toward approval and away from disapproval.

You tell people what to do next when you praise what they last did.

#2. Approval solidifies expectation.

You might expect people to show up on time, but you solidify expectation when you honor showing up on time.

The problem of expectation is it’s expected. You give respect when people exceed expectations and ignore them when they meet expectation.

Honoring the expectation of promptness is saying, “Thanks for being here on time. Let’s get started.”

#3. Approval invites connection.

Don’t expect to connect with people you disrespect.

Who works harder? Someone who feels connected or someone who feels disrespected?

Today’s leadership challenge: Find ways to express approval.

What prevents leaders from showing approval?

What are some expressions of approval?

This post was previously published on Leadership Freak and is republished here with a Creative Commons license.

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