Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

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on respect

A long time ago, I mulled over in my mind and realized there were maybe four reasons to respect people.

1) Respect by authority. "They're higher ranked/my manager/the President of the USA/older than I am, and therefore I should respect them."

2) Respect by fear. "They could beat me up, I'll do what they tell me."

3) Respect by friendship. "I like them a lot, and therefore they get more weight in my mind than they would otherwise."

4) Respect by skill. "I've seen them make very good decisions, and therefore, even if I don't agree with them, I might follow them anyway."

Number 1 is fleeting, at best. It lasts up until the person realizes that authority figures are often wrong.

Number 2 is even worse. It lasts until either the person decides to fight back, or until they have nothing to lose.

Number 3 is good. It lasts until something goes wrong in the friendship.

Number 4 is also very good, but it only really works if the person respects skill to begin with.

Oddly, I'm noticing that virtually all people in authority positions go for #1 or #2. Bad teachers especially have this problem, and when Respect by Fear turns into "I have nothing to lose" you get a situation like Columbine.

I don't know of anyone who respects people just because they have authority. Most people seem to have realized, at this point, that skill and authority are completely unrelated. That group is pretty much dead.

I respect the people I work with because I know they're damn good, and because I'm friends with them - not because I'm told I should. But many organizations seem to have forgotten this. Friendship and skill are harder things to manage, and so they get ignored entirely - you end up with entire organizations where all the justification for "follow the leader" is "because I said so".

It doesn't work. Don't try it.

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